You’re offering sanctuary

Stephanie is smiling at the camera. She is wearing a dark top and denim jacket. The background shows stone columns inside at University of Bristol building.

Chemistry student and former President of the University’s Student Action for Refugees group, Stephanie Hall, has witnessed how Sanctuary Scholarships can transform lives.

During my first year at Bristol, I went to a poetry reading in a café on Gloucester Road. That was where I first heard Home, an incredibly moving poem about how it feels to be a refugee. The piece was written by Warsan Shire, a Somali-British poet who was born in Kenya. In this poem, Shire talks about how you’d never want to leave your home, unless it had become ‘the mouth of a shark’ – in other words, when it becomes so unsafe that it stops being your home.

It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard and it inspired me to join the University of Bristol’s Student Action for Refugees group (STAR).

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‘This scholarship, right now, means everything to me.’

After fleeing his country of origin at the age of twenty, Davide* arrived in the UK with no friends or family to turn to and experienced homelessness, multiple evictions and extreme loneliness. His situation began to change after he met with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) who advised him to apply for a Sanctuary Scholarship at the University of Bristol.

He’s since completed a foundation year at the University and has recently begun his Undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Here he tells his story and explains how the Sanctuary Scholarship programme has impacted his life.

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University launches £1 million Black Bristol Scholarship programme

The University of Bristol is launching a new £1 million programme of scholarships, which will support around 130 Black and mixed Black heritage students to take up places at the University over the next four years.

The Black Bristol Scholarship Programme seeks to address the underrepresentation of Black students at every level of study in higher education across the UK, from undergraduate students to those completing PhDs. It will annually fund Black and mixed Black heritage students across five areas:

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Recognising our Bristol Volunteers

Our Bristol Volunteers are a community of over 1,700 alumni who all give their time and expertise to support the University community. We’re so grateful for the huge amount of effort our volunteers put into giving back to the University and to reflect this, we’re developing even more ways to say thank you and recognise their impact.

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Your messages of welcome for our Sanctuary Scholarship students

This summer, we asked alumni, staff, students and friends of the University of Bristol to contribute pictures and messages of welcome for our newest cohort of Sanctuary Scholarship students.

These students, who all come from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds, have been able to take up places at the University of Bristol because of the Sanctuary Scholarship programme. Each scholarship is a lifeline that makes a world of difference to the recipient.

We were so overwhelmed by the volume and heartfelt nature of the messages; we wanted to say a huge thank you and share some of our favourites with you. You can head to our Facebook page to see the full selection of messages.

“I wanted to send a welcome photo to show that Bristol is a safe and welcoming city for all, including people seeking sanctuary from war, violence, persecution and impact of climate change. And also to offer our solidarity to the University of Bristol for launching a programme which offers life-changing practical support to refugees and asylum seekers who are coming to study in our diverse city of hope.”

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol

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Alumni interview: Ben Howitt (BVSc 2016), Founder of Pan Animalia

After working in a veterinary practice in Guernsey for a number of years, Bristol alum Ben Howitt went for the ultimate change of scenery by moving to the Galapagos. There he worked for almost a year as Chief Veterinary Officer for a charitable association, spending his free time scuba-diving and learning more about the beautiful animals which inhabit the islands.

He’s since launched his own foundation, Pan Animalia, which aims to provide accessible healthcare for domestic animals in the Galapagos and help manage their population numbers. This plays a crucial role in protecting the biodiversity of the islands. We caught up with him to hear more about his work and vision for his foundation.

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Alumni interview: Izzy Obeng (BSc 2014), Managing Director of Foundervine

After graduating from Bristol in 2014 with a politics degree, Izzy Obeng worked at KPMG before starting her own company – Foundervine. This award-winning social enterprise helps diverse founders build start-ups from scratch and specialises in delivering digital start-up and scale-up acceleration programs.

Since launching in 2018, Foundervine has helped over 2,000 future leaders from diverse backgrounds to create and build their own ventures. 27-year-old Izzy is now based in Accra in Ghana, and her team of twelve work remotely in locations up and down the UK. As well as sitting on the Alumni Association Committee, Izzy has been involved in alumni events – including a recent Bristol Connects Live event focused on entrepreneurship. We spoke to Izzy to hear more about Foundervine, her time at Bristol and what it was like to meet the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

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Alumni interview: Natalie Podd (BSc 2011), Co-creator of Board Game, ‘Confident?’

After graduating from the University in 2011 with a Maths degree, Natalie Podd spent five years working as an actuary before taking a career break and going travelling with her partner, Ceri. They spent a year climbing mountains, exploring salt flats and trekking through rainforests. As well as coming home with a whole host of incredible memories, the pair also managed to return to the UK with a fully formed idea for a new boardgame.

The couple launched the game, entitled Confident? in 2018 and, after receiving positive reviews, were quickly noticed by John Lewis and Waterstones. Here, Natalie explains how the game works and talks about the reality of balancing a more traditional career alongside running a small business.

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Renowned speakers to join Class of 2020 in Virtual Celebrations

Top row L – R: The Right Honourable the Baroness Hale of Richmond, Vanessa Kisuule, Sir Paul Nurse. Bottom row L -R: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Jenny Griffiths MBE, Dame Julia Slingo.

From final-year medics graduating early to work on the NHS frontline, to groups organising foodbank donations, throughout this year Bristol students have been stepping up to assist those impacted by the pandemic. Many of our final-year students have been taking part in such activities, all whilst working hard to complete their degrees.

For these students, their time at the University is almost at an end. So, to mark their incredible achievements and commemorate their final year, the University is hosting a series of virtual celebrations for the class of 2020. The events will be hosted online and will see Bristol students from all over the world signing in from home to watch with their friends and family.

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Help to welcome our Sanctuary Scholars

Every year, just after welcome week, the University hosts a welcome event for our Sanctuary Scholars, an incredible group of students who all come from asylum-seeking or refugee communities.

The welcome event is always a really special day, where the newest cohort of scholars get to meet each other, as well as staff and students from the University.

This year, as you can imagine, we can’t welcome our scholars in quite the same way. But whilst we might not be able to be together in one room, we can still do our very best to let these students know that they are a valued part of the Bristol community. We hope you’ll join us in doing so!

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