Congratulations to our Head of Operations, Kamal Ali-Merkhbi, who received the Asylum Seeker Advocate Award from the City of Bristol High Sheriff.
Kamal received the award for being the driving force behind establishing mental health support for refugees and asylum seekers staying in temporary hotel accommodations in Bristol. Kamal leads our Refugee Services, and by collaborating with the Bristol Refugee and Asylum Seeker Partnership (BRASP), has successfully set up mental health drop-ins and several regular health and wellbeing services for those staying in temporary hotel accommodation.
Kamal and the Bristol Mind team conducted a survey and worked with residents at the hotel sites to understand the types of activities they would benefit from. “By capturing need, we were able to develop culturally relevant activities to help refugees and asylum seekers’ wellbeing.” Said Kamal
Current services include:
A cross-cultural support and activity group for refugee women.
Counselling for refugees who identify as female.
Connecting refugees with nature and wellbeing.
· English Language ESOL
· After School Arts and Craft Group
· Football club
· Exercise & circuit training You can read about some of the wellbeing groups we provide here.
The mental health support Kamal has established has significantly impacted those staying in temporary accommodation. Kamal says, “What we provide is a personal touch to people’s experience, someone for them to talk to and culturally relevant activities to improve mental wellbeing.”
The feedback from the residents is that the physical activity sessions and embracing nature has been particularly beneficial to their mental health, as well as significantly reducing the number of calls to the police.
From all of us at Bristol Mind, we congratulate Kamal and the team on this recognition and thank you for your continued commitment to providing mental health support to refugees and asylum seekers in need.