Another year, another festival!

We are very proud to have been able to deliver the Festival again in challenging times and we thank all of the partner organisations, community groups and participants who joined us this year. 

Once again our programme had to adapt to the times, but this allowed for innovation and collaboration in ways that we had not experienced before.  Our Walk with Me and Celebrating Sanctuary Local events were hugely successful engaging over 300 people across the city and we have made some fantastic new connections and hope to continue these type of projects in the future.  

Other highlights included the Magic for Smiles live event hosted by Jacari and the wonderful UWE/BRAC art exhibition ‘Belongings’.  There were a number of thought provoking online talks including The Asylum Process, with an honest and moving talk from Irene about her experience of seeking asylum in the UK and  a talk about community engagement – Refugees are People from Second Tree in Northern Greece. 

You can still view some of these events and others online through our Resources page.

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Since 2005 Bristol has been running events during Refugee Week to celebrate the contribution that refugees and asylum seekers bring to Bristol. Refugee Festival CIC was established in November 2017, to coordinate the ever-increasing programme of events. The festival is now a diverse programme of arts, cultural and educational events, bringing together incoming and host communities across the city, spanning several weeks every June.

We thank all the organisations and individuals that help make it happen.

Community Engagement

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a 3 year grant from the National Lottery to expand our community engagement programme and develop the organisation.  For all updates on progress, plans and ways to get involved, please sign up to our mailing list http://www.bristolrefugeefestival.org/newsletter-sign-up/ 

Bristol refugee festival aims are:
    • To promote a better understanding as to why people seek sanctuary
    • Help overcome misconceptions
    • Value the diversity and talent that refugees and asylum seekers bring to Bristol
    • Support successful integration.
Bristol Refugee Festival 2021 funders are

In association with

refugee week logo

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Meet The Team

Jules Olsen – Festival Director

Jules runs the day to day operations of the CIC and is one of the founding Directors. Her background is in events and project management and she has been managing refugee week events since 2010.  she has been a key driver in the expansion of Festival activities and partnerships and leading the strategic vision of the organisation. She is also a singer and voice coach.  

Danny Vincent – Refugee Engagement Officer 

Danny coordinates BRF’s engagement with refugees and asylum seekers and is one of the founding Directors. He has been involved with refugee agencies for over ten years and is currently the coordinator of the Lorraine Ayensu Refugee Arts fund. He is also a professional musician, teaching and performing piano and accordion.

Vandna Mehta – Community Engagement Officer

Vandna’s role is to establish and strengthen relationships with local communities and organisations in order to create positive and meaningful opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers to take part throughout the year, as well as the Festival. Vandna is Co-founder of Vocalise magazine and Diverse Artists Network and is a keen vegan.

Sam O’Sullivan – Administrator and Events Coordinator

Sam supports the team’s community engagement work in an admin capacity, and plays a key role in the planning and coordination of the annual festival. She is a passionate human rights advocate, and an active member of her community on social justice issues. Her interests include walking, riding her bike, cooking and pottery.

Deasy Bamford – Non-executive Director and Chair

Deasy has worked across cultures and landscape for over 30 years, bringing peoples together through cultural sharing, music and the freedom to explore . She has established intercultural music festivals, youth and family projects that connect through nature and space. She is a roamer and lover of the British Iles, mandala maker, photographer, spoken word and land artist. She believes passionately in promoting understanding, sharing platforms of communication and change making and supporting people to make the best lives they can . Bristol Refugee Festival is one of those platforms and opportunities closest to her heart. 

Fatuma Mohamud – Non-executive Director

Fatuma Mohamud is undergraduate studying Politics and International Relation at the University of Exeter. She is the Co-chair of the BIPOC staff and Student network Cornwall and recently co-authored a Departmental Review on Decolonising the Curriculum. Alongside her studies, Fatuma also holds Trustee positions at Raleigh International and Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union. Fatuma is passionate about development, refugees, diversity, inclusion and centring young people’s voices. Her interest is driven by a fascination with the International environment, deep concern for the future of our planet, and insatiable desire to make a difference.

Liz Counsell – Non-executive Director

Liz is a Creative Producer and Arts Consultant with over 10 years experience working across multiple artforms. She has worked in both strategetic and delivery roles with Trinity Bristol, MAYK, Tongue Fu, Roundhouse, BBC Arts and Radio 1/1Xtra and is the Co-Director of Disability Arts Festival I’m Here, Where Are You? Her work centres around artist development, community engagement, social prescribing and creating accessible experiences that share lived experiences with a wide range of audiences.

Polly Davis – Non-executive Director

Polly is Senior Producer of Ad Infinitum, a Bristol-based arts organisation which creates theatre with diverse communities and tours internationally. Polly studied History of African and Asian Art & Architecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London before beginning her career in the arts at Talawa Theatre Company in London. Since then she has worked as a producer and project manager for a range of diverse-led organisations in London, Bristol and the South West across dance, music, community arts, festivals and theatre.  Polly completed an MSc in Social and Cultural Theory at the University of Bristol and currently sits of on the board of Trustees at Knowle West Media Centre, is a Governor at Barton Hill Academy and a Director of Bristol Refugee Festival. 

Bristol Refugee Festival is organised in partnership with various refugee support organisations and community groups.

Here are some of the main contributors to Bristol Refugee Festival:

Bristol Refugee Rights

BRR provide a place of welcome in Bristol where asylum seekers and refugees can meet and be supported to play a full part in the life of the wider community and also campaign for the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers.


Bristol Hospitality Network

BHN extend solidarity to people seeking asylum and experiencing destitution through accommodation and creative community involvement.


City of Sanctuary

Bristol City of Sanctuary shares the national City of Sanctuary vision that (UK and Ireland) will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

Bristol City of Sanctuary is made up of representatives of various organisations from across the city, bringing people together to create a culture of welcome and safety for all.



ACH is a refugee Resettlement service providing housing, training and support for refugees, homeless and other displaced people.



Borderlands Bristol works especially with people seeking asylum in the UK or have become a refugee from other countries; we support people who have been trafficked and trapped in domestic service or the sex industry



The Lorraine Ayensu Refugee Arts (LARA) works to support refugee and asylum seeking musicians. We work closely with members of BRR, other refugees and asylums seekers, and local musicians in projects

LARA is a project within Bristol Refugee Rights.

Tribe of Doris

Through community events, festivals, a summers school and gatherings, TOD create opportunities for cultural understanding and a sense of belonging through music, dance, song and ceremony from around the globe


Refugee women of bristol 

Refugee women of bristol bristol refugee festival

Refugee Women of Bristol (RWoB) is the only multi-ethnic, multi-faith organisation which specifically targets the needs of refugee women in Bristol.