city of sanctuary

Offshoring Asylum Seekers to Rwanda: Punishment, Not Protection

Welcome to Bristol City of Sanctuary's April newsletter We write to you in the grim shadow of the Nationality and Borders Bill passing through Parliament. The Bill introduces into law policies that will cause so much harm, and we are devastated that this week the UK government has chosen to punish, not protect, those seeking sanctuary. This is not in our name. We find hope in the sustained opposition to this Bill. Over a thousand of you signed our statement, standing up for sanctuary in the face of a Bill which squashes the right to seek asylum. Protests across the country and widespread national and international condemnation strengthen our resolve that this Bill can and will be challenged. Thank you to all who joined us in advocating against this Bill, to all who raised their voices in support and solidarity. We will continue - together we can build a society which recognises the importance of welcome and compassion. Please continue to write to your MP and urge them to repeal this Bill. Wishing you all the best, Bristol City of Sanctuary
National News
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Offshore Processing: Characterised by Punishment, Not Protection
This month, the Government announced plans to remove some people arriving in the UK to seek sanctuary to Rwanda. There is no justification for these plans. Despite what the Home Office is saying, this will not save lives. It will destroy them. We saw what happened when Australia implemented offshore processing, with widespread reports of human rights abuses and suffering in the centres that people were held. This is not something that any country should attempt to replicate, and it is a depressing indication of how truly hostile Government asylum policies have become. Our intern, Daisy Robins, has put together a helpful guide on what offshore processing is, and why we are so vehemently opposed to it. You can read it by clicking the button below.
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Photo Credit: Claudia
Hundreds Gather to Say No to Offshore Processing
On Saturday the 23rd of April, up to 200 people attended a public display of solidarity at Bristol’s harbourside. The crowd held signs which stated ‘Refugees are welcome here’ and ‘Seeking Asylum is a human right’, listened to speeches and performances and signed petitions in opposition to the government's Nationality and Borders Bill (which passed through Parliament on Wednesday 27th of April) - particularly the plans to offshore those seeking sanctuary to Rwanda. Over 1,000 leaflets that countered the government’s misrepresentations and explained what the legislation meant were handed out to the public... People in the crowd expressed that it was wonderful to see people standing in solidarity, and great to know that they were not alone in opposing the bill and offshoring more specifically. Some spoke of their own experiences, or experiences of those they know, and said that the one thing that the government and supporters of this bill seem to forget is basic: humanity. They expressed that policies such as this deny those seeking sanctuary basic humanity, and act to take even more from those who have already lost everything... We would like to extend our thanks to all those involved: in supporting, in organising, in the speeches and performances. Despite the bill’s passing, the event showed an outpouring of solidarity with those seeking sanctuary and showed that despite the government’s efforts to push hostility, inhumanity and punishment, we can still fight against this and say #NotInOurName. Now, we must turn our attention to keeping up the pressure, spreading the word and pushing for a repeal of this horrific bill at the earliest opportunity. 
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Local Campaigns
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Sanctuary Scholars Legal Fund  
At Bristol City of Sanctuary, we are proud that both of our local universities have Sanctuary Scholarship schemes, granting scholarships to students from sanctuary seeking backgrounds. The Home Office has once again issued a study ban on a current sanctuary scholar. Their scholarship means they are disqualified from accessing legal aid, and so the Sanctuary Scholars Legal Fund is crowdfunding to help them fight this devastating and unfair ban. 
Local News
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UWE Sanctuary Scholarships  
UWE has launched its Sanctuary Scholarship, offering funding for people from sanctuary seeking backgrounds to study at the university. If you or someone you know may be interested, please click on the button below to find out more.
Sanctuary Scholarship
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Bristol Refugee Festival Returns  A huge thank you to Bristol Refugee Festival for sharing the information below. We can't wait for the festival this year, celebrating connection and looking at Healing Through Community. The much-loved Bristol Refugee Festival is back with live events running from 6-26th June. The Festival, now in its 6th year, promotes better understanding of those seeking sanctuary and celebrates their contributions. This year, the theme of ‘Healing Through Community’ looks to inspire connection, integration and community-cohesion. Events of all sizes will bring people together through food, music, sport, education and conversation. 
There’s still plenty of time to get involved: from organising your own event or celebration, to inviting new  neighbours in for coffee, or turning up to a programmed  event. Toolkits are available on the Bristol Refugee Festival website to help with ideas and planning, along with ways to donate for anyone inspired to support this vital work supporting vulnerable community members and strengthening our communities.
A full programme will be available soon. Sign up to their newsletter or follow Bristol Refugee Festival on  social media for updates. 
Find out more
Arts Stream of Sanctuary We will soon be launching our  Arts Stream of Sanctuary, and are looking for people working within arts organisations who may want to join our subgroup and help drive this forward. If you would like to find out more, please email
A note on our Sanctuary Transport Fund We are so grateful for the continued support of so many for our Sanctuary Transport Fund. Your donations  make such a difference to the everyday lives of those seeking sanctuary here. Historically, each donation has been match funded by First Bus with an allocation of tickets each month. We would like to expand the number of people we help as well as diversify the range of transport we fund. This means that some donations would not be match funded. If you have any concerns about how this affects past or future donations please do let us know by emailing 

Posted: May 2022