by Aimee Andrew, Residential Life Advisor
June 20th marks World Refugee Day which is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It is a day to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution and to build empathy and understanding about this important issue.
When I was at university, I volunteered with Student Action for Refugees at a hostel for incoming refugees in Birmingham. This was an incredibly rewarding experience in which we ran a children’s playgroup to give parents some respite from childcare duties and to provide a welcoming and hospitable face in the hostel. I enjoyed this experience so much, and would recommend this to everyone, as it felt great to be able to make a tangible difference in the lives of newly arrived refugees.
I’ve also used the language skills learned in my Spanish degree to become a voluntary translator for Translator’s Without Borders. This has given me an outlet to keep practicing my second language while using my words to help translate key texts for humanitarian causes and NGOs. For anyone studying a languages degree, or who speaks more than one language, I would wholeheartedly recommend TWB.
For this year’s World Refugee Day, I wanted to draw people’s attention towards some of the amazing ways in which you can get involved with supporting refugees in Bristol. Bristol is such an inclusive and diverse city so there are plenty of ways you can get involved:
STAR – Student Action for Refugees @ Bristol SU – Have you seen the Student Action for Refugees society at Bristol Uni? Join them for the opportunity to volunteer at local refugee projects such as Homework Club and Conversation Club and join their campaigns to improve the lives of those seeking asylum.
b.friend (bridgesforcommunities.com) – This is a Bristol run volunteer project in which you can sign up to volunteer and you will be matched with an asylum seeker or refugee in Bristol to provide them with companionship and support.
Volunteer | Borderlands – This is a similar Bristol volunteer project in which you can become a one-to-one mentor for refugees in Bristol
Translators without Borders – Do you speak a second language? Translators without Borders is looking for you! TWB is a global community of voluntary translators who provide translations for non-profit organizations in areas of crisis relief, humanitarian aid, health and education
Donate your items — Aid Box Community – Why not donate your old clothes and unwanted items to a refugee in need? Especially with the end of term clear outs coming up – check the link for a list of items they are currently looking for.
Cook-alongs – 91 WAYS – This innovative social enterprise works with a wide range of community cooks from across the globe, as well as teaching you how to make a delicious meal, the cooks will deepen your understanding of their culture and the place food holds within it.
Bristol Refugee Festival – Celebration Information Intergration – Did you know that Bristol has it’s very own Refugee Festival with a whole programme of events annually from 6th-26th June? Take a look at their website and see if anything takes your fancy! From cooking classes, to craft and conversation and more
If you would like to donate to a local organisation that helps refugees in Bristol, consider Bristol Refugee Rights. They have been helping regugees in Bristol since 2006. You can read about their current work supporting LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum here: Pride Without Borders – Bristol Refugee Right