Refugees welcome here

September 25 2015

COUNCILLORS from Bishopston and Redland have backed a successful motion, which calls on Bristol to welcome 50 refugees.

COUNCILLORS from Bishopston and Redland have backed a successful motion, which calls on Bristol to welcome 50 refugees.

The proposal, which has come about in light of the humanitarian crisis in Syria, was voted for unanimously at a Full Council meeting last month.

Redland councillors Fi Hance and Martin Fodor, and Bishopston councillors Tim Malnick and Daniella Radice supported the recommendation.

The motion called on Mayor George Ferguson to give “real meaning” behind Bristol being a “City of Sanctuary”, and accommodate a number of families fleeing war and devastation in their own countries.

It also asked Mayor Ferguson to write to the government, asking them to support cities and communities who want to accommodate refugees.

Councillor Hance, who sits on the steering committee of Bristol City of Sanctuary, said: “I am delighted that councillors have chosen to work together to make sure that Bristol lives up to its status as City of Sanctuary.

“We are calling on the mayor to immediately pledge to take an initial 50 refugees and to accept refugees from Syria under the government’s Vulnerable People Resettlement Scheme.

“The Local Government Association has called on councils to clarify the number of refugees they could host. It is time for the mayor to make at least an initial commitment, which we then hope can be built upon in the future.”

Councillor Radice, who is also Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are continuing to call on central government to provide additional funding to local authorities, so that those fleeing persecution and war can be properly supported.

“We are pleased that the government has begun to buckle to public pressure calling on Britain to do more, but this has to be more than just empty words.”

She added: “It is an accident of birth that some people are born in countries suffering from conflict, while others are lucky enough not to.

“3,000 people took to the streets to welcome refugees and call for Bristol to lead the way in hosting those seeking safety. We hope that this motion will start to make that call a reality.”

Councillor Fodor, whose own ancestors were refugees, said: “All my ancestors were refugees – my father escaped the Holocaust in Hungary as a boy, and all my mother's family came from communities that escaped persecution in Pogroms. My grandmother was brought to Scotland as a baby from her village.

“Different countries, regions and blame but sadly all too similar today. Personally I'd like to see much more done to promote peace building among communities and local development around the world, not weapons exported in our name.”

The motion was voted through on September 15. Mayor Ferguson will now decide the way forward.

Bristol Green Party

RESIDENTS wishing to play their part in helping refugees can do so through the Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN).

The network provides accommodation, as well as opportunities for creative community involvement, to people seeking asylum and experiencing destitution.

Locals can sign up to BHN’s mailing list and also ‘like’ them on Facebook, to keep up to date with what help is needed.

Residents can also offer a spare room to a destitute asylum seeker – most are single men, aged 25 to 50 – or give regular donations to BHN to run their men’s hostel or provide refugees with £10 a week.

For more information, visit: