ACH CEO speaking to press


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After fleeing war in his home country of Syria, the farmer sought refuge in Bristol in 2017 and soon found ways to put his skills to use. There, with the support of refugee support organisation ACH, he has forged a successful business under the name Rocketman and Crowdfunded more than £6,000 to buy a polytunnel, enabling him to grow more produce year-round.

He is appealing for help to find a new piece of land, of approximately 5,000 metres, in the city, or on the outskirts with good transport links, to ensure his business can survive and thrive.

Ali needs land that has transport links within north Bristol or South Gloucestershire. He is open to any contract type.  Anyone who might be able to help can contact Ali via


Khrystyna Demchenko, 35, based in Bristol, received the Workers' Educational Association (WEA) Academic Excellence Award at an event on 22 November.

Ms Demchenko came to Britain on the Homes for Ukraine scheme after leaving her home in Kyiv. 

She said: "The right to translation should be one of the most important human rights."

Amina Missi left everything behind when bombs started raining down on her country. The 44-year-old fled Syria as war broke out in 2016. After arriving in Birmingham in 2019, not speaking a word of English, Amina worked hard to get her head down and find a job - and is in the process of following her dream of opening up her very own Syrian restaurant in the city.

With the help of ACH, a social enterprise, Amina has been supported to attain relevant qualifications, register her business with the local authorities and access appropriate training. Amina said it would be a ‘dream come true’ to be able to bring the tastes of her homeland here to Birmingham.

Nevinder Ram, Operations Manager for Himilo – ACH’s training subsidiary, said: “Our Migrant Business Support Project, from January 2021 to December 2023, has already made a significant impact, assisting 850 third-country nationals in Birmingham and Bristol on their journey to enterprise success.”

Last June, we released the second annual ‘From Sanctuary to Opportunity’ report as part of our five-year Change Makers project.

In the spirit of the report itself, the launch amplified the voices of lived experience, showcased refugee’s artwork at our exhibition, and provided opportunities by supporting refugee-owned businesses.

George Smith, the lead researcher, engaged in a conversation with Alex King from Bristol Cable regarding the report and contributed: “We wanted to build on the work Bristol has done as a city of sanctuary – to think about how we become a city of opportunity”

Refugees fleeing war and instability have spoken out about starting a new life and creating a positive impact in Bristol. This includes a green-fingered farmer from Syria.

Their experiences have been documented as part of a report by researchers from the University of Bristol, who teamed up with the Migration Business Support, a project run by Ashley Community Housing in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority.

Father-of-three Ali Al Hlayel escaped the war in Syria and settled in Bristol, where he spent two years volunteering at Windmill Hill City Farm. Having previously cultivated vegetables, wheat, and barley, he longed to be back on the land, using these skills to provide for his family. Last year he produced his first harvest under his new brand ‘Rocket Man’, with organic rocket being his star performer. 

Ali used to work on a large farm in his native Syria where he grew a range of traditional vegetables. After he moved here, He set up his own business in 2022 called Rocketman, with help from refugee-led social enterprise ACH.

 A JustGiving page has been set up to raise funds for Ali to buy and install a 27ft wide polytunnel which will allow him to grow vegetables all year around for the Bristol market and allow his business to flourish.

“I hope to expand by building a polytunnel which will allow me to grow all year round. Please support my dream and share with your friends.”

A former school in Westbury Park has been transformed into temporary housing for refugees.

Starting with the refurbished Hampton Lodge on the site, this is the first project of its kind in the city and will provide homes for a small community of refugees from several countries.

The building offers one-bedroom properties which are provided fully furnished and fitted with white goods, so residents have a place to call home while they receive support from ACH.

Investment firm FORE Partnership and care operator Amicala acquired the former grounds of St Christopher’s School to transform it into a retirement community. While the companies await the outcome of the application, they and developer Socius are set to repurpose vacant buildings at the site, into homes for refugees.

Those staying in the building will receive support from ACH. Our chief executive Fuad Mahamed said: “This partnership is most welcome and much needed. The refugee clients we support desperately need safe, comfortable, and affordable housing to begin the process of rebuilding their lives in this country.”

Our CEO and one of Bristol’s newly appointed International Ambassadors Fuad Mohamed, speaking with Neil Maggs about how he navigated a fraught political context both personally and professionally.

Listen to the podcast for an inspiring talk by Fuad, who founded ACH to support refugees and asylum seekers, with his lived experience in immigration.