As Bristol Hospitality Network, we have supported hundreds of members with a diverse range of issues since being founded in 2009.
Many of these people have entered the UK for the first time, with limited knowledge of support systems. The BHN Help Team, with their expert knowledge can guide members through the process of finding accommodation and support for their asylum claims at times of need.
In 2017 our Help Team supported 30 members per week with advocacy work, and has been developing its volunteer team, training and processes.
David [not his real name] arrived in Bristol in 2016 after suffering persecution in his home country in Africa. BHN volunteers immediately placed him with a host family in the city while a solicitor working on behalf of Bristol Refugee Rights oversaw an asylum application.
Meanwhile he began visiting our Welcome Centre in Easton and volunteering on reception, despite enduring a series of stressful experiences.
“It was difficult because I had to do the application on my own at first trying to get the evidence”, David said. “For example I had to prove I had no assets back home and I was trying to gather bank statements but the bank asked for my passport as a form of identity, but by that stage I handed in my passport to the Home Office as part of the process. It was an impossible situation.”
David’s application was approved in 2017 in just under a year and he received Leave to Remain in the UK for five years. He now works in Bristol as a full-time support worker at a charity for victims of trafficking.
He reflected on the assistance he received from the BHN Help Team: “They were really helpful in helping me to understand the systems in the UK when I was applying for asylum and at the same time I was going through stress, it was very traumatic, the help they gave me was very valuable.”