As part of the Frontline Network Shadowing Fund, InterAction Drop-in were able to visit Bristol Refugee Rights, to see what lessons could be learned from another organisation supporting asylum seekers and refugees.

Richard, (Director of Operations), Kate, (Drop-in Manager), and Tolosa, (Drop-in Coordinator), from the Action Foundation team travelled down to Bristol over the summer to learn how BRR operates on a day-to-day basis. The team came away full of ideas on how to develop their own InterAction drop-ins, which have been running since May 2019.

Bristol Refugee Rights was set up as a voluntary organisation in 2006 with the aim of upholding and championing the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

They are also one of the eight organisations, along with Action Foundation, who are part of the Early Action Charter. This is an England-wide programme set up to help prevent people in the asylum system living in crisis.

Supportive refugee Drop-in service

BRR provides a place of welcome where asylum seekers and refugees can meet, as well as helping them to play a full part in the wider community.

The organisation runs three Drop-ins a week in two different locations. The team attended one of BRR’s Drop-ins session and were impressed with both the range of services available as well as the well-established sign-in and registration system in place.

A wonderful range of services for asylum seekers are provided, including:

  • Casework and advice
  • Free clothing shop
  • Refreshments (toast and tea/coffee)
  • Free lunch
  • Games
  • ESOL
  • Free haircuts
  • Crèche
  • Massage

A Volunteer-led service

The BRR have three advice staff and volunteers who are qualified to provide casework and advice services. The Action Foundation team were struck by how experienced the BRR volunteers are: all their advice staff and volunteers have completed OISC Level 1-3 Accreditations. The volunteers help asylum seekers with health, housing and asylum issues which have been recorded into their database system by caseworkers. The volunteers beamed with pride at being involved in the project, some of whom have worked with BRR since its creation 13 years ago.

Looking to the future

The team especially liked the idea of the regular team meetings BRR hold just before the Drop-in starts, with volunteers and staff members, facilitated by the Drop-in manager. This meeting usually involves volunteers introducing themselves and giving them the chance to chat about any concerns, issues or developments about asylum seekers. This is followed by a debriefing at the end of the Drop-in session about how the Drop-in was.

Action Foundation’s Drop-in Manager Kate Townsend said: “It was incredibly insightful, and we all learned a lot, especially thinking to the future of how our Drop-ins could look further down the line.”

Action points

The team were really impressed with what they saw in Bristol and are going to implement the wrap-around team meetings before and after each Drop-in session with the volunteers.

The Action Foundation team will consider translating registration forms into five different languages and setting up a computerised sign-in and registration system.

They will also consider running casework and advice services, in addition to providing haircuts and lunch services.

This trip was made possible thanks to funding from St Martin in the Fields Frontline Charity ‘Shadow Fund’

Click here to find out more about our InterAction Drop-in service