Our Mission, Values, Vision and Culture
BHN, as a member-led organisation, extends solidarity and works equitably with people seeking asylum and experiencing destitution through accommodation and creative community involvement
Solidarity (Working alongside people, not merely giving aid)
Equity (Opening equitable opportunity for all)
Mutual Empowerment (Overcoming barriers together)
Hospitality (Creating intercultural spaces of welcome)
Integrity (Transparency in decision and action)
Creative Resistance (Living change imaginatively)
Anti Oppression (Recognising the structural oppression in society and working together to raise the power of our members)
BHN, as a member-led organisation, works together to end the destitution of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and creates a greater awareness of the humanity and gift of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK media and the population as a whole.
BHN recently agreed to become member-led. This document helps us to understand what that means in terms of our adapted mission, vision and values.
We want to create intercultural spaces of welcome that enable everyone at BHN to express their views if they wish to do so. This is what we mean by Hospitality. Creating spaces like this requires a culture of acceptance, open-ness, curiosity, discussion and learning, avoiding a culture of judgement and censorship. Our members describe this as feeling like BHN is a ‘family’ or an ‘umbrella’ and it’s one reason why the Welcome Centre (which does this so well) is so key to how members experience BHN. The value of Mutual Empowerment means that we value each person individually and also the collective power we have together to make change. It encourages us to welcome each other’s different views and cultures, learning from each other without judgment or hostility.
Our value of Equity also helps us to welcome our members well and ensure that we create a level playing field for all. Equity achieves this through treating people differently depending on need. Whilst our work is infused by our values outlined above, it is vital to recognise the various needs and vulnerabilities our members experience at this time in their lives. Furthermore, it is also vital to be aware of the power and privilege that BHN staff/volunteers/trustees hold. Creating a culture of understanding of each person’s needs and vulnerabilities and choosing acceptance over judgement is BHN’s way.
Solidarity, alongside Mutual Empowerment, means we not only work with people (alongside not above), but we, from our recognised position of power and privilege, offer to build their capacity so that they can take the lead. We want to have our members set the agenda of BHN and make strategic suggestions for development. We don’t just want to consult, we want to listen and change as a result of our members’ views. We also try to use consensus decision-making where possible at all levels of our network. These are the best ways to ensure our members ‘own’ their journey at this time in their lives. It also shows them that BHN values them highly, helping them to both value and believe in themselves.
Integrity manifests as humility, honesty and transparency at BHN. All staff and volunteers work to be transparent about their decisions and actions, sharing with the wider BHN family to create a collaborative culture that everyone feels like they ‘own’. Furthermore, this honesty also encourages humility, when staff and volunteers recognise their limitations and transparently work through mistakes with learning, for all to see.
Creative Resistance is BHN’s superpower! We work against powerful institutions, advocating for the lives and rights of destitute asylum seekers in Bristol and nationally through political activism. We aim to always remain creatively open as to how we do this well, willing to change for the benefit of those we support. We have made a giant goat (don't scapegoat asylum seekers), painted 3 different murals to publicly share our message of welcome, attended rallies and marches and advocated for members with their MP’s, including prominently attending sanctuary in parliament and hosting an ‘ending asylum destitution’ conference.
Anti Oppression is our new value and this is in response to the decision of BHN to be member-led.
Recognising the structural oppression in society and working together to raise the power of our members is vital if we are to see the end of destitution and the move towards our members taking their rightful place in society as fully empowered individuals.