Who we are
Herbalists Without Borders, Bristol, is a collaboration between volunteers who are passionate about plant medicine, including clinical herbalists, community herbalists, herb growers; and local support projects that work with asylum seekers and refugees. We are a branch of Herbalists Without Borders UK and affiliated with Herbalists Without Borders International.
Illustration by Amani Omejer
Where we came from
Setting up the clinic is a deeply rooted act of resistance against an unjust global political system that has created such unjust borders, as well as the government’s introduction of the Immigration Act 2016, which exacerbates the already extreme difficulties people are facing.
Some of the challenges that face people who have fled their homes include; homelessness, unstable housing, poverty, loneliness and social isolation. In addition there is often a constant state of uncertainty regarding their future and asylum status. Living in such stressful conditions greatly impacts their health and wellbeing, by creating high levels of anxiety and trauma. We often see this as chronic insomnia, chest infections, digestive issues and low immunity, as well as other more complex conditions.
We believe that herbal medicine is an important part of any healthcare system and can have profound effects individually, as a community, and in wider society. We hope that this project can be accessed at various different points such as growing herbs, local herb walks or self care workshops and all of these can play a vital part in improving health and wellbeing.
What we do
We currently organise:
- A mobile dispensary for common ailments, such as: insomnia, anxiety, coughs and low immunity. This dispensary is taken to existing support projects in the city.
- A referral system for more in-depth cases to access further herbal support from the trained herbalists involved.
- Harvesting of herbs from local growing projects including the Herbalists Without Borders, Bristol medicine garden.
- Wild crafting events to harvest herbs.
- Self-care workshops in the projects that we visit.
- Volunteer medicine making events where we make the medicines for the mobile clinics.
Where we want to be
- We want to expand to involve refugees and asylum seekers in the organising group of the project.
If you are interested in starting a branch of Herbalist Without Borders UK where you live, please get in touch. We hope that the project becomes something that is able to be replicated by herbalists throughout the UK, establishing an even wider network of Herbalists Without Borders.
Photos by Shelly Abrahams