What we do
Our strategy is simple – we seek to give people who would not ordinarily meet the chance to do so, and we promote friendship and understanding between diverse communities. We have observed that by simply bringing people together and giving them opportunities to develop friendships, stereotypes are challenged and perceptions are changed. Much of the fear and prejudice that exists does so because we don’t know people from other backgrounds, and Bridges for Communities wants to address this issue at the grass-roots level; to spearhead social change by creating spaces for positive interaction between people. As well as connecting people in this way, we work to support some of the most marginalised in society, namely asylum seekers and refugees. We also provide training for people who want to build bridges in their local communities, and we seek to share positive stories wherever possible.
We live in an incredibly interconnected world, but one that is also fractured and divided. Violence and fear between people of different faiths, cultures and nationalities seems to be constantly in the news, and at times it can be difficult to find positive stories of diverse people getting along well. Britain today is a diverse country too, with communities from many different cultures and faiths living side by side with one another, but at times having little meaningful interaction. There is a profound lack of understanding and trust, and this has lead to a marked increase in hate crime motivated by religion and ethnicity in recent years. The need to foster better understanding between people of different cultures and faiths has perhaps never felt more pertinent.
Sharing a meal together gives people from different cultures and faiths the opportunity to meet and build friendships.
We bring people together around religious festivals and feasts — like Ramadan and Christmas — to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes.
This project provides one-to-one support for refugees and asylum-seekers in Bristol, who may be isolated or struggling.
We help to support refugees who have been resettled in Bristol after fleeing the terrible conflict in Syria, through volunteer support and cultural awareness training.
We organise trips to connect people in the UK and the Middle East, facilitating opportunities for perceptions to be changed and for friendships to be built.
We provide cultural awareness training for working crossculturally, and refugee support training for groups working with refugees, asylum-seekers, and vulnerable migrants.
Dan is the co-founder and Director of Bridges. He leads Bridges’ cultural exchange programs between the UK and the Middle East, as well as coordinating local initiatives and training in Bristol.
Based in Bristol, Sam is the founder and coordinator of b.friend, a project that provides one-to-one support for asylum seekers and refugees.
Karen is the latest member of our team, coming on board to help run the Syria Befriend programme and to provide logistical support.
Sarah and Mark are the Bridges representatives for Cardiff, Wales. They are also the visionaries behind Peace Feast!