stories

  • Autumn Peace Feasts, September 2018

    This September, we hosted two wonderful Peace Feasts in partnership with other organisations in Bristol. Both evenings were a huge success, with roughly 40 people in attendance, and were fantastic examples of the willingness of local people and groups to extend a welcome to those fleeing conflict. 

    Felix Road Peace Feast
    Hosted in partnership with Up Our Street – a local organisation run by community members – this event gave residents in Easton and Lawrence Hill the chance to meet with refugees recently resettled in the area through the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme. The evening – which took place at Felix Road Adventure Playground and was complete with delicious food cooked by Nirmal – was a wonderful opportunity for residents to meet with the newly arrived families, to share food and stories, and to begin to build relationships that we hope will last long into the future.

    St Stephens Peace Feast
    Members of the Resonate group at St Stephens church put on this special event to welcome refugees to the city. A delicious meal was shared by all, and the Resonate group talked about the history of the church, what their community does together, and how the newly arrived members of the city can get involved. Some of the refugees present also shared their experiences and stories with the group. 

    Here's what some people said about the evening:

    "A really enjoyable, uplifting experience. Hearing people's stories was humbling and saddening, powerful and inspiring. I met some very lovely people and definitely want us all to get together again and repeat the evening very soon!"- Steve

    "It was great to be part of it; it was lovely the way 'conversation' gradually developed over food and there seemed a really good spirit. It was great to hear a few people stand up and tell us a bit more about who they are as well".- Chris

    "I enjoyed the evening - I wasn't sure how we'd get going at first, but it got there. I think the 'speeches'/sharing in the middle, with input from both groups, made a difference in that. As did mingling in the line getting dessert." -Sarah

    Thank you to everyone who was involved in hosting and attending these wonderful evenings. More Peace Feasts to follow in October and November!

  • b.friend Update - Winter 2018/19

    Our b.friend programme is one of the things we're most proud of here at Bridges. B.friend provides refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol with one-to-one support, creating a vital connection between often incredibly isolated individuals and the wider local community. We train our volunteers, who then meet regularly with their b.friend partner, providing friendship, support, informal advice and English conversation practice.

    Since 2015 we have also been running our Syrian b.friend programme, working in partnership with Bristol City Council to support families who have arrived in Bristol under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Originally only open to Syrians, the project now also supports families from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Iran.

    2018 was a great year for b.friend. Our programmes supported 98 individual refugees and asylum seekers, we trained 90 new volunteers as befrienders, and our volunteers together clocked up an incredible 4,890 volunteer hours (at least!). A huge thank you to every one of our incredible volunteers, without whom b.friend simply could not exist!

    B.friend is a lifeline for refugees and asylum seekers, yet one of the pieces of feedback we always receive is how much the volunteers themselves also gain from participating in the programmes. Holly, who has been volunteering with Syrian b.friend since August, said that: 

    "Seeing Reham, Abdulhakim and their three children is always a highlight of my week. Whatever time or day I visit, they'll always make me feel incredibly welcome, and the table is consistently full of delicious food. Getting to know the family has felt like a real honour, and the way they have welcomed me into their home is something really special. A particular highlight was bringing my 91 year old grandma to meet the family on Christmas eve: within about 5 minutes of arriving she was dancing to Syrian music and eating tabouleh like she'd been doing it her entire life. Though there are difficulties, I've been in awe of the families perseverance and versatility, and their commitment to just simply making it work. I know my friendship with Reham will last for years to come, and I can't wait to see how the children grow and progress in their new lives here in Bristol."

    For more information on b.friend, check out the information page on our website, or watch our short video about the impact of one particular b.friend journey.

  • Baraka Café Peace Feast - March 2020

    Bushra, from Bridges for Communities, serves a vegetarian feast

    It was such a pleasure to host our first Peace Feast at the Baraka Community Café in Easton Family Centre. People from many different cultures, nationalities and faiths came together for a delicious vegetarian feast, with music from the talented Dijwar Khalil.

    New friendships were forged, new recipes were welcomed, and a good time was had by all.

    Special thanks to Dijwar, Mohammed and Bushra for sharing their stories of life in Eritrea and Syria. It was a very moving time and they all spoke with great passion about their journeys to the UK and their hopes and dreams for the future.

    A highlight for many was the spontaneous singing and dancing at the end, as guests joined in with traditional Arabic songs.

    Some comments on the night include...

    "A very enjoyable evening talking to different people and the Baraka food was lovely"

    "I found the atmosphere brilliant... so much joy"

    "Very beautiful experience"

    "I was overwhelmed by Mohammed's description of life in Eritrea and touched by the friendship and freedom he found here"

    "Great food, great idea, super great people"

     

    Dijwar entertains guests with Syrian music

    Chefs serving up a delicious meal

    Syrian singing

     

     

    New friends getting to know each other

     

     

    Dan opens the Baraka Café Peace Feast

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Bristol Half Marathon, September 2018

    On September 23rd, 8 runners ran the Bristol Half Marathon to fundraise for our work with refugees and asylum seekers, raising an incredible £3,600 and far surpassing our original target. The money raised will be used to continue our programme of special events and trips for refugees and asylum seekers, providing a vital opportunity for people to relax, have fun and make connections during an incredibly difficult period of transition. 

    A massive congratulations and thank you to all our runners - Mirna, Liz, Owen, Sian, Laura, Rick, Dan and Karen - for their time and effort, and a special mention for our Jordan rep Mirna, who flew back from Jordan to participate in the event!

    Finally, an even bigger thank you to all those who donated - we couldn't continue doing the work that we do at Bridges without your kindness and generosity. 

  • Refugee Social Events - Summer 2018

    Refugee social event at Ogmore beach

    Refugees and asylum seekers are faced with many challenges as they seek to rebuild their lives in the UK, and it can often feel impossible to find the time to simply relax, have fun, and connect with others who have been through similar experiences. Our programme of Refugee Social Events aims to ease this difficulty, giving refugees and asylum seekers the chance to take a break from the challenges of daily life and simply enjoy a fun day out.

  • Story from b.friend - Visit to the Seaside

    We have the privilege of working with some amazing refugees and asylum seekers through our b.friend project. We often hear about ways in which b.friend partnerships are impacting both the volunteers and the people they are supporting, and from time to time we hear of moments when our volunteers have really gone the extra mile to help make people feel welcome and cared for. 

  • Welcome to the Bridges blog!

    We have named this part of our website Stories, because it is where we will share stories about what we (and others) are doing in our communities.