A flotilla of boats is about to move through the centre of Bristol to show solidarity with refugees across the world. It is part of a national day of events under the “Show Your Heart” campaign organised by the Together with Refugees coalition.
The aim of the flotilla is to highlight Bristol as a City of Sanctuary and to say that refugees from all over the world are welcome in the city. This is especially relevant following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The city mayor Marvin Rees has invited residents to join them on the harbourside this morning from 9am as the flotilla passes by. They will then head up to College Green, also in the city centre, to hear from speakers about the importance of welcome.
The group of three boats has departed from the city centre is now moving through the local waterways. Our Senior Reporter, Tristan, is on board. You can watch live here.
The Plimsoll Swing Bridge is due to open at 9.20am on A3029 Brunel Way, and traffic is already building due to the closure of the road as the bridge is open.
The organisers of the flotilla wrote: “Bristol City of Sanctuary is hosting a flotilla and speeches to demonstrate the city of Bristol’s support for a compassionate and forward-looking approach to people seeking sanctuary in our city. The flotilla will set off at 9am, taking around 45 minutes. After the flotilla, we will walk up to our Tree of Sanctuary to hear speeches from people from across our Bristol communities at around 10:15am.
“It is part of a national day of events under the “Show Your Heart” campaign organised by the Together with Refugees coalition. The orange heart symbolises compassion for those fleeing war, persecution and the impact of the climate crisis, as well as showing hope and kindness to those seeking sanctuary.”
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees wrote in a blog post: “The war in Ukraine has once again shown the importance of safe spaces for people to escape to. It has shown the importance of welcome, the importance of the extension of friendship and solidarity to those fleeing unimaginable horrors.”
He wrote that the generosity of Bristolians offering spare rooms, items, and asking to volunteer “stands in stark contrast” to the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill currently going making its way through Parliament. He called on MPs to accept amendments from the House of Lords instead of “[continuing] to support the building of higher walls instead of bridges, shutting people out instead of opening the door to the protection that all would seek in these situations.”
This is a live blog – follow below for live updates as the flotilla and protest moves through Bristol