welcome-to-bristol-refugee-hack-day-logoWe’ve all heard about the serious issues faced by those migrating into Europe to seek asylum from war-torn countries – but now’s our chance to use technology to make a difference to their lives.

Bristol Refugee Hack Day is a free 24-hour event that will happen during Bristol Refugee Week, on the 22-23 June. It’s aim is to bring together both locals and those who have experienced, or are experiencing, the asylum system in Bristol – who want to use their digital skills to create solutions to some of the issues faced by support organisations, refugees and asylum seekers themselves.

“Bristol Refugee Hack Day aims to establish new connections between the refugee and the tech community”


We caught up with the hack day’s co-organiser Alba Lanau who tells us: “Bristol Refugee Hack Day aims to establish new connections between the refugee and the tech community.”

The event was inspired after co-organiser Ruth Hennell attended a London event called EmpowerHack – a hackathon event and now on-going collective working on different technical and digital projects focused specifically on the needs of refugee women and girls.

ruth empowerhack presenting

 Inspired: The idea to host a refugee hackathon came
after Bristol developer, Ruth, attended
EmpowerHack in London
[Image credit: EmpowerHack]

Alba adds: “The idea for a Bristol hackathon appeared at an event hosted by the Trinity Centre to bring together organisations supporting refugees and people willing to learn more and get involved.”

Co-creating solutions

It’s also an opportunity for Bristol-based refugees and asylum seekers to demonstrate their skills when their qualifications from home might not otherwise be recognised.

“There is lots of untapped potential [in refugees] that could contribute so much to the city”


Alba explains: “Refugees are often extremely qualified as many were professionals in their country of origin. There is lots of untapped potential that could contribute so much to the city.”

Get involved

bristol-refugee-hack-day-mediaAlba tells us: “We are looking for people with relevant skills to attend and pool their time, knowledge and skills and to work together on new ways to address issues faced by asylum seekers, refugees and the organisations that support them in the digital era.”

These skills include:

  • knowledge of refugee organisations
  • experience of seeking asylum in the UK
  • language skills
  • coding
  • web developing
  • data analytics
  • design
  • communications
  • social media

“We’ve received offers of help from both individuals and organisations in Bristol. Bristol is amazing!”


Alba adds: “We are also looking for organisations and individuals that can help in making the ideas and projects generated on the day go forward. For example, by offering space, funding, or their own skills. Everyone can help us by sharing the event far and wide.”

Support from the South West

Being the first refugee hack-day in Bristol, and with just 2 weeks to go until the big day, we were keen to see how the team had been getting on so far. Alba tells us: “The response so far has been extremely positive. We had pre-registrations even before the dates were set, and we’ve received offers of help from both individuals and organisations in Bristol. Bristol is amazing!

“We are particularly grateful for the support of Connecting Bristol, the Trinity centre and Bristol Refugee Week who have been there for us since the beginning.”

Get involved by signing up to attend the Bristol Refugee Hack Day on Eventbrite. You can also show your support on Twitter by following them: @BrisRefugeeHD. Alternatively you can stay up to date with their progress via the Bristol Refugee Hack Day website.

Alice Whale