You’re opening up the Bristol community

Simi Modupe, Sanctuary Scholarship recipient, shares how this support from alumni and friends has changed her life.

I’m the youngest of my siblings and the first person in my family to go to university. The idea of this kind of study was unheard of in my community. It felt like a miracle when I got into Bristol. There is no way I would have been able to take up my place at university without this Sanctuary Scholarship.

After school I lost several years to immigration issues and red tape surrounding that. I also couldn’t get any funding to study; it was a difficult time. I was living in London. But I wasn’t really living, just barely surviving. At one point I was working in a hotel starting at 3am and doing a 10-hour shift. I often had to sleep on the street before going on to my next job.

The relief when you get your visa is immense. But the doors don’t just open, you must work so hard to get anything. When I learned that Bristol had these Sanctuary Scholarships, it was the chance I needed. I persevered to make the grades and was so proud when I was offered a place to study Economics. When I was at school there had been an outreach visit from Bristol and the people who came made it sound so exciting and energetic to study there, they really brought it to life, so you can imagine my excitement when it was confirmed that I was going to go there.

I love it here, I’m learning all the time and the Scholarship has made a huge difference to my life as a student. I couldn’t possibly do this degree alongside the number of hours I was working before, rushing from one job to another. This year I’ve been helping with the programme to welcome new Sanctuary Scholars and support them as they get to know the city and University. Everyone has been through major challenges, many fleeing from war in Syria. They’ve all got a different story, but we’re united by a huge sense of optimism for the future and our ambition to get the most out of our time at Bristol.

The city really suits me, it feels like there’s a community here. And I feel like me in Bristol. I’ve made some wonderful, strong friendships and have already had some great support from the Careers Service, who’ve helped me with my plans for what I’m going to do after graduation. In fact, I’ve had so much support that really the only main challenge is dealing with Bristol’s hills! When I first moved here I couldn’t get over how hilly it was, but now it’s a place I call home.

We recognise that individuals from forced migration backgrounds face additional barriers in accessing higher education and employment. Sanctuary Scholarships are made available to qualifying applicants who are asylum seekers, refugees or on Limited Leave to Remain in the UK. The aim of the Sanctuary Scholarship is to enhance opportunities for people from asylum-seeking and refugee communities, and to aid integration.


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