Bridges for Communities is a Bristol-based charity that connects people of different cultures and faiths, enabling them to build friendships, grow in their understanding of one another and live well together.
Bridges was founded in 2010 by Dan and Karen Green who, while living in the Middle East, came to see the value of bringing young people together from different backgrounds in order to simply get to know each other and have their perceptions of one another changed in the process. This belief in the value of contact or interaction between people from different communities, and in its potential to reduce prejudice and intolerance, has remained at the heart of everything Bridges has done since then.
Bridges has now evolved and grown to run a wide range of projects and activities, including ones that bring people together around food, music, language or faith, and others that seek to make Bristol a more welcoming city for people who are displaced by war or persecution. We are based at Easton Family Centre in central Bristol and have a diverse team who are passionate about the work we are doing.
How we work is as important to us as what we do.
We Value People
We believe that all people have intrinsic and equal value, and that everyone deserves justice, peace and opportunity. We don’t view people as projects or statistics and we seek to keep relationships at the centre of our work.
We Celebrate Diversity
We celebrate the richness of diversity in human cultures, traditions and faiths and we look to build on common ground and similarities while not minimising or ignoring differences. We recognise that people’s identities are multi-layered and that simple labels are often problematic.
We Practice Hospitality
We believe that everyone deserves to be welcomed and included, and that nobody should be isolated or lonely. We recognise that people coming together around food or other shared experiences can be transformational for our communities.
We Act With Integrity
We recognise that people will have different motivations for getting involved in this work. We create safe, open spaces, without hidden agenda, where people can discuss their experiences and beliefs, learn from and build trust with one another.
We Are Reflective
We seek to learn from what is happening around us and from our mistakes. We are flexible, adapting to opportunities and needs as they arise, innovating to find creative solutions, and continually reviewing the language and terminology we use.
What Makes us Different
Our work is rooted in grassroots action. Based in Easton, one of the city’s most diverse neighbourhoods, our day to day interactions and relationships with local people are the basis on which the rest of our work in built.
We operate at the interface between different communities and groups. We seek to play a connecting role between different faith and cultural groups, but also between the refugee community and settled or ‘host’ communities. Although Bridges was originally set up by people with a Christian faith, it is not ‘faith-based’ and it welcomes the involvement of everyone.
We believe in the mutuality of relationships, believing that when people interact it is always an opportunity for both parties to learn and benefit. This challenges some of the common dynamics and language around charity work such as the hero-victim or helper-helped relationship.
We recognise the complexity of the issues involved in our work, and try to avoid offering neat and easy solutions to complex problems. We have therefore created a varied toolkit of programmes and initiatives that cover a broad range of responses.
We are firmly committed to working in partnership with other organisations who share our goals, and to contributing towards wider strategies that overlap with our work. We will continue to invest in these during the next 3 years.
Bridges is part of a vibrant voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector in Bristol. We also work with the local authority, Bristol City Council, and in particular seek to contribute towards their One City Plan. We are part of the Inclusive Cities stakeholder group, a community partner in the Everyday Integration project led by the University of Bristol, and an active partner with the Council’s refugee resettlement team.
We are part of the Bristol City of Sanctuary network and a member organisation of BRASP (Bristol Refugee and Asylum Seekers Partnership), the local network that collaborates and coordinates refugee services across the city – we work closely with other organisations in both networks to ensure that our work complements theirs. We are also a member of the Together With Refugees coalition.
We are also grateful for significant partnerships with several local organisations and venues. At the time of writing these include Arnolfini, Bristol Refugee Festival, Bristol Beacon and Easton Family Centre among others.
Dan is the co-founder and Managing Director of Bridges.
Nic is the b.friend Project Manager, providing one-to-one support or asylum seekers and refugees through our amazing volunteers.
Bushra runs our programme of Bristol Welcome events and plays an invaluable supporting role with Resettlement, Walk With Me and Cultural Training.
Asia is our Peace Feast Events Manager, gathering people around food and stories to build understanding and trust.
Anna is the Bristol Schools Linking Project Manager, bringing children together through classroom connections.
Karen is a co-founder of Bridges and oversees the Resettlement Support, welcoming families who have fled war & persecution.
Dawn is one of our Stitching Together Project Managers, creating welcoming spaces where refugee women sew together.
Sima is a Stitching Together Project Manager and provides Resettlement Support, welcoming families into Bristol.
Amir is our Walk With Me Project Manager, leading one-to-one and group walks to support refugee wellbeing.
Holly is our Community Engagement Worker, enabling volunteers and local communities to engage with our Afghan response.
Suus is our RefuLingua Project Manager, coordinating the language and culture classes.
Wala is our RefuLingua Project Assistant, helping to develop teaching materials and supporting our tutors.
Dan is our Communications Lead, telling stories of what we do and the people we work with.
Mark is our Operations Manager, overseeing the administration, finances and internal operations of the charity.
Fiona is our Grants & Trusts Fundraiser, generating income to increase our project impact.
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