Help refugees connect, share & thrive

by Bristol Refugee Festival in Bristol, Bristol City, United Kingdom

Help refugees connect, share & thrive
We did it
On 24th May 2024 we successfully raised £1,455 with 53 supporters in 56 days

We're the South West's only festival for, with and by refugees. Help us raise £15k to keep our vibrant programme free and accessible for all

by Bristol Refugee Festival in Bristol, Bristol City, United Kingdom

"Bristol Refugee Festival makes a big difference in your life. You have welcoming people with smiling faces: it has a big impact and tells you you’re not alone." 

Our festival brings communities together to connect, share and celebrate. But we need help to make it happen this year. Without your support, refugees and asylum seekers will miss out on the opportunity to meet people, perform, trade, gain vital employment skills and become active members of their communities.

Why do we need you? 

Costs have risen significantly and fundraising is more challenging in this time of financial crisis. We've tripled our output in the last 3 years to meet additional need in the community, meaning we're stretched to the limit. 

The rise in cost of living means our support for refugee performers and traders, and the training and employability skills we offer, are needed now more than ever.

We're calling on our supporters to help us continue providing a platform for refugees and asylum seekers to showcase their talents and culture, to keep our events free and accessible for everyone to attend, and to expand our services to include more people and communities. 

Your money will pay for:

  • Transport and food for refugee and asylum seekers to attend events 
  • Training for refugee ambassadors to plan, create and lead fabulous events
  • Resources and materials for refugee-led workshops and activities
  • Ingredients for a delicious cultural community meal
  • Fair fees for our talented refugee performers, artists and practitioners
  • Venues and infrastructure to showcase performances, art exhibitions, films etc 
  • Resources and training for communities in creating welcoming, inclusive spaces 

"Community doesn’t happen by accident – people have to build it." (Participant, 2023)

[Watch the video in full here.]

Last year over 6,000 people including nearly 1000 refugees and asylum seekers celebrated together at our 40+ free events citywide.

Our annual flagship Celebrating Sanctuary event sees thousands come together in central Bristol for a day of fantastic refugee-led music, food and creativity. This much-loved event has been a highlight of Bristol’s cultural calendar since 2005.


Photo: Zhenya M

"It was great to see how excited the performers were before they went on stage, doing something they really love and sharing that. It was really positive." (Participant, 2023) 


Our Celebrating Sanctuary Local events create smaller intimate spaces, where people can really get to know each other through food, music, games and conversation. Each year more communities get involved, creating a network of welcoming spaces across Bristol. 


Our festival programme also consists of events hosted by partners across the region including film screenings, exhibitions, feasts and sports tournaments. These create more opportunities for community members to come together, while also raising awareness of the issues refugees and asylum seekers face.  


Our ambassador group of 10 refugees, all of different backgrounds and lived experiences, receive training and support to get involved and lead on our activities. For example Joel (below), who arrived in Bristol after fleeing political unrest in Nicaragua, ran BRF’s first Latin American event in 2022 which was attended by nearly 500 people.


What’s the need?  

Refugees and asylum seekers arrive in the UK having fled war, terror and/or persecution. They want to rebuild their lives, but many arrive alone, unable to speak the language and without any social networks. Research carried out with refugees and asylum seekers by Migrants Organise and Refugee Action found that most of them saw loneliness and isolation as their biggest challenge in everyday life - one that can be tackled with increased connection and activity.

Hostile immigration plans and volatile rhetoric in the media does not make for a welcoming place for traumatised people who have risked their lives for safety.

Through our own consultations and feedback people report the same issues which have a huge impact on their mental health and wellbeing:

  • Concerns around not knowing where they would feel welcome 
  • Not being able to work or share their skills, knowledge and culture
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Suffering from trauma

Our Festival creates welcome and hope, overcomes misconceptions and creates understanding. There's always food, music, laughter and joy - what’s not to love?!


What’s in it for you? 

  • You make a genuine difference to people's lives by enabling opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers to meet new people and become an active part of their communities
  • You become part of a wonderful community of supporters, who we love and appreciate!  
  • You achieve a sense of connection, wellbeing and joy for doing something great 
  • You have the opportunity to join us at the Festival where you can meet lots of wonderful people, eat delicious food, listen to amazing music and generally have a great time seeing what your money has done

So pick a reward and press send - you won’t regret it!   

More about us:

We believe that everyone deserves to live in a place where they feel safe, welcome and valued. We are passionate about what we do and the people we support. We:

Connect people in open and inclusive ways through creative activities that cut across barriers such as language, gender, age and background, creating opportunities to have fun together,  get to know each other and build relationships.

Empower refugees and asylum seekers to share their culture, skills and knowledge, helping them contribute to their local community and feel more valued.

Create meaningful interaction,, leading to greater understanding  and long-lasting friendship, so refugees and asylum seekers can feel less isolated and begin to thrive in their new home. 

To find out what a real difference we make, read our latest impact report.

“The end to all problems comes from understanding and the more time people spend together, the less likely there is to be misunderstandings” (ambassador, 2023)


All photos by Diego Pena except where stated


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£15 or more

Meals and wheels

£15 could pay for transport for a refugee or asylum seeker to one of our events and a meal when they get there. You will receive a lovely digital thank you card from our designer Sevilay

£25 or more

Creative sparks

£25 could pay for arts materials for a refugee-led craft workshop. You will receive a specially-designed, unique digital thank you card.

£50 or more

Festive feasting

£50 could pay for ingredients for a cultural community meal. You will receive a festival t-shirt, with the beautiful 'compassion tree' image created by our designer Sevilay and produced on organic cotton.

£100 or more

Celebrate with us!

£100 could pay for six refugees and asylum seekers to travel into Bristol for an event. You will receive a personal invitation to our flagship Celebrating Sanctuary event at Queen Square in central Bristol, and a chance to see our work in action.

£150 or more

People power

£150 could pay for training and support for an ambassador to build their confidence and skills in leading on events. You will receive a personal invitation to our flagship Celebrating Sanctuary event in central Bristol and a chance to chat with one of our wonderful ambassadors.

£200 or more

Music to our ears

£200 could pay for a refugee performer. You will receive a personal invite to our Celebrating Sanctuary event, and enjoy a full day's programme of refugee and asylum seeker performances. You'll have a chance to go back stage to meet the performers.

£500 or more

Life and soul

£500 or more could sponsor a community event helping pay for venue, food, workshop materials and performer payments. You will receive a personal invitation to the event where you'll have the chance to meet the team and our ambassadors. We'll also include an official thank you for your support on an event flyer and in our annual report.

Got an idea like this?

Over £200 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.