Sanctuary Sunday in Southmead


By Lucille Smith, Community Development Lead

I have been going to the Celebrating Sanctuary day in Queens Square for as long as I can remember. It’s like a mini Womad festival with stalls, colourful clothes, people from around the world, music from around the world, and food from around the world.

However, last year, like so many things, the event couldn’t happen because of Covid.  Instead the Bristol Refugee Festival supported eight smaller local events to take place across the city on Sunday 20th June.

I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our communities here in Southmead.  As the new community worker at Southmead Development Trust I had become in increasingly aware that we have a much more diverse community here than I had realised.

The idea was to raise awareness of our diverse communities and also to bring people together after we had been forced to be apart for so long.  We decided to hold the event at The Ranch (Southmead Adventure Playground) as it’s a great space with a built-in entertainment for the youngsters.

I worked with the Community Engagement worker for the Bristol Refugee Festival and my colleagues at the Trust to identify local people who might like to get involved.  It was a new experience for me to organise something like this during Covid – a balancing act of inviting enough people so we had a good turnout, but not too many so we wouldn’t be breaking any lockdown rules; then working out how much food to provide – again without breaking lockdown rules – but it all worked out brilliantly.

We ordered food boxes from Refugee Women of Bristol, a delicious assortment of couscous, samosa, vine leaves and falafel with tiny pots of hummus.  Some community members brought super strong Sudanese coffee and delicious sweet snacks. There was nothing left at the end!  The kids had a whale of a time on all the play equipment of course, and we had some beautiful singing and dancing, and a display of traditional Sudanese goods.

The event had a really fantastic vibe and everyone was so pleased to be together whether for the first time, or the first time in a long time.  The only downside was that the event clashed with Father’s Day and so that meant some residents couldn’t come.  We all agreed that this kind of event was long overdue in Southmead and we would like more events where the different cultures of our community can come together and get to know more about each other.

Fingers crossed the big event will happen in Queens Square again next year, but I think these satellite events have shown the value of smaller more local gatherings and these will hopefully continue to take place too.  I would like to thank everyone who came along and contributed on the day, especially Lilla from the Youth and Play Team at The Ranch, and Mohammed and Muna El Sharif from the Sudanese community.

Do take a look at the little video and at the pics below.

If you’d like to find out more about Sanctuary Day and Bristol Refugee Week click> here

If you would like to get in touch to find out more about my work please email: or telephone me at the Greenway Centre on 0117 950 3335