Just last month, as part of the UK’s Refugee Week, Bristol hosted its very first Refugee Hack Day.

The event offered a unique opportunity for those with coding, social media and web skills to work together with those who have personal experience of the asylum system and the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol – and create digital solutions to address the problems they face.

“Technology cannot solve all the problems, but we can address some of the issues asylum seekers face in Bristol”


And create they did – from finding ways to get something to eat, to skill sharing and more, teams worked tirelessly over 2 days on a array of ideas that could help thousands of Bristol-based refugees and beyond.

bristol refugee hack day juneBristol Hackers: 7 teams were formed to help solve the problems facing Bristol
refugees and asylum seekers


Alba Lanau, co-organiser of the Bristol Refugee Hack Day says: “We have a very strong network of organisations in Bristol that are helping asylum seekers and refugees and we can do more. Technology cannot solve all the problems, but we can address some of the issues asylum seekers face in Bristol.”

The projects

bristol-refugee-hack-day-discussionsTo kick-off the weekend hack, 7 teams got together combining a range of skills and experiences of tech and the asylum system – with each coming up with its own project. You can check them all out below:

  1. Bristol Refugee Food Network – Links up refugees and asylum seekers with others in Bristol to eat together. Matches people who want to cook and have the space and ingredients with those who want to eat – to come together and share a meal.
  2. Refugee Stories – A safe space for refugees to share any stories from their life they wish to share. It links up with existing projects and groups to allow for opening up in a supported way and adds tagging and indexing to allow people to find stories that match their research, interest or activities.
  3. Asylum Dawn – A mobile-enabled website that connects asylum seekers and refugees to support-organisations and services.
  4. Refugee Data – A project aimed at gathering statistics and information about the numbers of asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol and their situations, in order to help organisations apply for funding and support their service provision.
  5. SkillShack – A skill-sharing platform to help enable asylum seekers and refugees to meet up with people for one-to-one skill sharing, or find out about classes. Volunteers can also sign-up to share their skills.
  6. Sleep and Eat – A daily guide of where to eat and sleep for homeless people, including refugees and asylum seekers.
  7. Detention Guardian – A service that allows asylum seekers at risk of being detained in immigration detention to back up their contact numbers, since their phones are confiscated once they are detained. They can then call a number and enter a pin to either collect their contact’s phone numbers or to notify those individuals by SMS that they have been detained.

The winners

bristol-food-network-winners-at-bristol-refugee-hack-dayOf course, it wouldn’t be a hack day without a little competition. Judges included the founder of social video platform, Nth Screen – Tim KindbergDominic Cushnan who delivers hackathons in the NHS and Suad Abdullahi, a Bristol University Research Associate and advocate for community action.

  • Immediate Need Award – Jointly awarded to Asylum Dawn and Sleep and Eat.
  • Creativity Award – Contact Guardian.
  • Collaboration and Co-creation Award – Bristol Refugee Food Network (pictured, left).

Missed out on Bristol’s first Refugee Hack Day? Stay up to date with refugee hack events on the Bristol Refugee Hack Day website. Or you can follow them on Twitter: @BrisRefugeeHD.

Alice Whale