This page contains some background information about the services we provide. If you are trying to access one of our services, please refer to the How We Help Section.
The Welcome Centre
The Welcome Centre is a support service and social space for people seeking asylum as well as new refugees. At the Welcome Centre our members can access many of our other services, as well drinks, snacks and a cooked meal on Thursday; a free shop which has food, clothes and toiletries; board games and pool; and arts and crafts.
The BBC Food and Farming Awards 2018 Winners
In June 2018 the team that cooks the meals at the Welcome Centre won the BBC WEST Cookery Team of the Year at the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2018. The BBC said:
Volunteers at Bristol Refugee Rights cook lunch for up to a hundred asylum seekers and refugees from all over the world every week at the Malcolm X Centre in Bristol. The charity has to fundraise to cover the cost of the food. They’re not professional chefs but they create nutritional, flavoursome, fresh three course lunches which reflect the nationalities and religious requirements of their guests.
Bristol Refugee Rights volunteers at the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
We run English classes, weekly computer and literacy classes. Other courses run with our partner organisations include Everyday First Aid with the Red Cross and Food Hygiene Training with Virtual College . We also organise a range of trips throughout the year; these can be as varied as outdoor education at a community farm, learning to kayak and visiting the Houses of Parliament.
Our classes are essential for our members, who cannot access other college and community run classes. Asylum seekers must wait for 6 months before they are eligible to attend accredited ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Refused asylum seekers are ineligible altogether. We are not accredited to teach English and Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications, therefore we can offer our classes to people who would be excluded from these courses.
Advocacy and Information Desk (AID) & Asylum Support Project (ASP)
The Advocacy and Information Desk and the Asylum Support Project offer one-to-one support to help people with the asylum system, as well as accessing other government services—such as the health care, education and benefits.
People seeking asylum are excluded from claiming normal UK welfare benefits and most asylum seekers are not allowed to work. Asylum support is a government programme that provides people in the asylum process financial support and accommodation. The Asylum Support Project offers advice on accessing asylum support. Our aim is to prevent destitution and homelessness among asylum seekers in Bristol by providing personal advice on how to get the required support from the Home Office and Social Services.
Early Years Project
Bristol Refugee Rights is the first port of call for the majority of asylum seeking and refugee families coming to Bristol. The Yearly Years Project is an Ofsted registered creche that gives these families access to organised child care, and we offer them something that they simply can’t get anywhere else: a place to be children and a place where they can play and learn.
We believe that children and families should have the opportunity to grow and learn together. We therefore support families in many practical and emotional ways. Not only do we help families access nursery and local children’s services, we also making sure the children have enough food and clothing, giving out nappy packs and promote healthy eating and importance of play.
Few local education providers offer on-site crèche spaces. Government funding cuts have also reduced statutory crèche provision and increased waiting lists for crèche spaces. We have avoided government cuts by funding our crèche through donations. We run our crèche at the same time as our classes, which allows members with children pre-school children to attend.
Since 2010 the Yearly Years Project has been funded by a combination of BBC Children In Need, Crowdfunder and private donations.
You can learn how the Early Years Project, previously known as the “Community Creche”, helped one family new to Bristol:
Our lovely Paddington Bear creche room at St Paul’s Learning Centre is available for hire with or without staff. For more information, visit our Creche and Room Hire page.
We encourage our members to use their existing language skills to help other people who are also going through the asylum process.
These interpreters provide an invaluable service to the Bristol Refugee Rights Welcome Centre, Advocacy and Information Desk and Asylum Support Project.
Our interpreter training course that finished in June 2017 included 17 participants speaking Arabic, Farsi, Somali, Mandarin, Albanian, Kurdish Sorani and Tigrinya.
We train our members in basic interpretation so that they can support our staff, volunteers and other members. However, we can not provide interpreters for other organisations. If you require an interpreter please refer to the Bristol City Council translation and interpreting service.
VOICE is an initiative to provide public speaking training to our members, and is funded by the Big Lottery until March 2019. As part of the VOICE project we also train our members as interpreters.
Asylum seekers, who are normally not allowed to work, are often left with little opportunity to communicate with the wider community. Because of this they can become marginalised. Bristol Refugee Rights empower people to tell their own stories and share their perspectives on what it is like to be an asylum seeker in the UK.
We also organise events where the audience can learn more about people’s experience of what it’s like to be an asylum seeker in the UK, and provide speakers to a wide variety of groups and institutions; such as schools, universities, faith groups, community organisations and conferences.
Bristol Without Borders
Bristol Pride without Borders is a support group that provides a place for Bristol-based LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees. We meet to share our stories with others in the same situation, talk about legal issues, and find out about other support groups based in Bristol. We also learn to feel proud of who we are.
In May 2018 Pride Without Borders won a Bristol Diversity Award in the Organisation Award for LGBT+ category. You can see a list of all the winners on the Bristol Evening Post website.
Refugee Arts (LARA)
Lorraine Ayensu Refugee Arts (LARA) works to support refugee and asylum-seeking musicians. Our projects bring together Bristol Refugee Rights members, other refugees and asylums seekers, and local musicians.
We aim to:
- stage events in Bristol to showcase local performers who are asylum seekers and refugees;
- upport the development of performing arts, especially music, amongst asylum seekers and refugees living in Bristol;
- campaign for refugee issues through the performing arts;
- use the performing arts to connect asylum seekers and refugees with the wider community.
Recent LARA projects have included collaborations with the Bristol Reggae Orchestra, St George’s Bristol, Tribe of Doris and Platforma.
For more information about musicians that LARA have worked with, or how to get involved, please contact Danny email@example.com.