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Bristol Hospitality Network was founded in 2009 (registered as a charity in 2010) after a group of volunteers from sister-charity Bristol Refugee Rights started to see a rise in the number of asylum seekers sleeping rough or in need of housing. This need created BHN and the services we have tailored and developed over the last decade - all in solidarity with destitute asylum seekers in Bristol.
The first provision we setup was to provide accommodation through a Hosting Network, where members of the public provide a spare room for a destitute asylum seeker, enabling them to make a fresh claim from a place of safety and security. Soon after we were approached by a friend of the refugee sector who offered the use of an 11-bed house for free, which later became our BHN house. This led to our registration and more formal setup as a charity in 2010.
As we started building the BHN community, our understanding of asylum seekers and the difficulties they faced grew, and together, we created further support services tailored to real and emerging needs over the next decade. Today, our provision includes our:
- Monday drop-in - a social space where members can have a hot lunch, play games, volunteer to run the drop-in and access the HELP Team;
- Solidarity Fund - £30 a week for each accommodated member;
- HELP Team - volunteers helping progress our members fresh claims and signposting (e.g. medical needs);
- Moveable Feast - our catering social enterprise, available for events, festivals and weddings;
- Additional volunteering opportunities - events, festivals, Moveable Feast, Community Engagement Team (the voice of members in BHN's decision-making) and Advisory Board (a board of members shadowing and feeding into the Board of Trustees).
From the beginning, our values have been key to our operations and approach. We have always looked to create spaces where local people and those seeking safety could come together, and create a rich and welcoming community of people from all round the world.
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