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Home > Action Zones > Politics and Social Action > b.friend

b.friend - Enabling volunteers from Bristol’s church community to befriend asylum seekers and refugees



Bristol has approximately 150 asylum seekers supported by the Home Office, many more who are destitute plus many refugees living in the city. Some of these have no recourse to public funds. Beyond their practical needs these sanctuary seekers require emotional support in order that they can face the challenges life continues to bring their way. They are often suffering from depression, isolation and loneliness.


Volunteers undergo a period of training giving them background knowledge of the issues for asylum seekers and refugees. They are trained in listening skills and how to be an effective befriender and where appropriate, an advocate. This project is all about partnership and volunteers are welcome to apply from all denominations. The first training phase commences in October 2011.

It is expected that referrals to the project will come from Social Services, G.P’s, Red Cross, Bristol Refugee Rights, Refugee Action and other voluntary sector agencies in the city. The project manager will oversee the partnerships between befriender and befriendee and provide group supervision and support along the way. It is hoped to have 8 partnerships up and running by the end of 2011 with a further 20 by the end of 2012.

Whose idea?

b.friend is the idea of Sam Sayer who is also the project manager. Sam has delivered frontline advice to asylum seekers and refugees at Refugee Action for the past 9 years. Before her paid employment she was a volunteer. She is an experienced volunteer manager and trainer.

How can I help?

1. Giving of your time

Do contact Sam by email or by phone to explore this further. As well as befriending there are other exciting opportunities to volunteer with the project.
If you would like to know more please contact Sam at
sam@b-friend.org.uk or call on 07759 2938847
(Sam works Tues am, Thursdays and Fridays)

The next training opportunity starts on Thursdays at 7.30 pm: 20th October, 3rd, 10th & 17th November at ISR initially looking for 8 volunteers.

2. Supporting the project in prayer

Sam would be delighted if you would like to stand alongside b.friend in prayer. Please email her to let her know you wish to receive prayer updates.

3. Giving of your money

The project is currently hosted by ISR (Churches Council for Industry and Social Responsibility) If you would like to give please send a cheque payable to ‘CCISR’ stating it is for the project to:

Mrs Alison Paginton
162, Pennywell Road

Or if you wish pay money directly into ISR’s bank account stating that it is for b.friend:

Account Name: CCISR
Bank: HSBC
Sort Code: 40-14-12
Account No: 91057960