Bristol Pride Without Borders (PWB)
Who We Are
Bristol Pride Without Borders (PWB) is an award winning project that supports LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers. The project has been running for 5 years with a part time manager and a small group of volunteers who glue the group together with laughter and listening skills. It is one of a number of complimentary services offered by Bristol Refugee Rights. We currently have 35 active members.
“Bristol PWB has given me back my dignity. I have not felt as safe in such a long time." PWB Member
Pride Without Borders is still working to support our community of LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees. Our small team are calling people to offer emotional support and information and check they are safe. We are referring people to food banks and trying to get housing for precarious sofa surfers who face getting kicked out onto the streets.
We are also holding weekly meetings online over Zoom in order to maintain our community and offer contact and support.
On the plus side, the asylum system has slowed to a crawl and very few negative decisions, removal threats or evictions are happening. There is more availability of housing and destitution supplies than before for some people. On the minus side, members are very isolated and stressed by fears about coronavirus. Racist and homophobic incidents and conflict in crowded shared housing are likely to rise. We still need funds to keep running.
Why is the project needed?
LGBT+ people face extreme persecution in many countries across the world. Some LGBT+ people come to the UK to seek asylum only to find they face the same prejudice from their home communities here. They can also find that some LGBT+ groups in the UK don't understand the challenges of seeking asylum, as well as facing the 'hostile environment' that all asylum seekers face in the current UK system. In addition LGBT+ asylum seekers are much less likely to have family support, good friendship networks and a supportive community around them.
"For the first time I feel I can be myself as I share the friendship of others in my social group. People should know that LGBT asylum seekers are people who have been persecuted and are afraid,” PWB Member
"This group is my family. And now we are a BIG family! PWB means a lot to my life. It is where I feel confident, and where I belong." PWB Member
How we work
Under normal circumstances, Pride Without Borders meets fortnightly. We are now organising group video calls as well as lots of 121 calls to individual members to offer support and information. We all talk, share experiences, questions and challenges. We have formed a community marked by energy and appreciation; everyone has an understanding of the problems caused by the asylum system and shares experiences of a life scarred by trauma and dislocation.
We offer: a safe space, a non-judgemental and caring atmosphere, LGBT+ peers, signposting to other organisations and services, help in understanding the asylum system, help accessing quality legal advice. We also help members to reflect on their physical and mental health. We invite in guest speakers. These have included a trauma specialist, a solicitor, a trans rights activist and members of other LGBT+ organisations.
“Being open is a very new experience to us, but bit by bit we are getting used to it and liking it. We just need to be accepted without always having to answer questions or made to feel guilty because of who we are.” PWB Member
Read about us in the Bristol Cable - https://thebristolcable.org/2017/05/pride-against-all-odds/
Our funding situation:
PWB has no direct funding and its future is uncertain.
Please pledge support to this project so that we can continue the life-changing work:
- £10,000 per year would maintain the project and help us stay open, paying for staff time and room hire.
- £12,000 would allow the service to expand its numbers and do outreach work including awareness raising and training in frontline organisations.
- £15,000 would allow staff and group members to actively challenge homophobia and transphobia in the refugee and asylum-seeking community and spread awareness through the LGBT+ community.
We have lots of exciting ideas for expanding our work - we would love to create more space for the voices of our members to be heard. We also believe it is important to train other professionals in how to work sensitively and appropriately with LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers and to campaign for change and a better system. The group are becoming increasingly vocal and confident about speaking out within refugee communities and asserting their rights.
“It is heartwarming to see how the members in this group look out for each other and the room is often filled with laughter,” says Tom, Manager of PWB “We have spent hours talking about the challenges of reconciling sexual identity with religion and culture.”
Please get in touch with ideas and support in addition to donations: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read about the story of one of our members here
Photos by Diego Maeso https://www.diegomaeso.com/
Film created by volunteer (and film maker) Sam Harvey - www.directorsamuelharvey.com