Last week, along with our colleagues Baher and Heather of BRASP (Bristol Refugee and Asylum Seeker Partnership), Voscur celebrated the contribution that refugees and asylum seekers make to Bristol as part of Refugee Week.
Baher, who is originally from Syria, has volunteered for many refugee support organisations in the UK and other countries. He is regularly involved in human rights activism, and volunteers as an English tutor for asylum seekers and refugees, and is currently the president of Bristol University Student Action For Refugees Society.
Heather has many years of experience working and volunteering in the refugee and asylum seeker support sector. She also worked for several years in South Sudan for a social justice organisation supporting civil society coalitions and activists.
They both joined Voscur in 2022, job sharing the Partnership Development Officer role for BRASP which is an innovative partnership of 15 Bristol-based organisations working in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers in the city. The BRASP vision is that all refugees and asylum seekers enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives in Bristol, have a voice and their needs are met by an effective, unified and sustainable sector.
As part of their work, Baher and Heather have also been involved in the Bristol Refugee Festival which coordinates a collaborative year-round programme of arts, cultural and educational events, bringing together communities from across Bristol and beyond to connect and create a better understanding of why people seek sanctuary, to help overcome misconceptions and to promote successful community cohesion.
This year the festival's theme was Healing and how healing might be done through activity that creates strong, welcoming and inclusive communities. Refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK will have lost those strong networks and connections, so together communities can help them rebuild new ones, so they can feel welcome, safe valued and so begin to heal.
Through a magical, 3.5m tall puppet called Little Amal (which means hope in Arabic) who first captured the world’s interest in 2021 when she walked nearly 5,000 miles across Europe, our attention was drawn to the urgent needs of young refugees.
Little Amal, the living artwork of a young Syrian refugee child came to Bristol and walked around our city. She met thousands of people along the way and her journey enabled spectators to reflect on Bristol’s complicated past. She helped us consider our ambitions for the future of the city. We believe BRASP is fundamental to the city being able to achieve its ambitions. Watch this video to find out more about the history, progress and future aims of BRASP.