On Monday 31st October 2011 representatives from across the City of Sanctuary national network met in Nottingham and elected a board of trustees from Scotland to Wales, taking in many English towns and cities in between, with Inderjit Bhogal as Honorary President
City of Sanctuary began in Sheffield in 2005 when Inderjit Bhogal was inspired to write a letter to Craig Barnett after seeing that Craig had named his home “Sanctuary House”. Sanctuary was a notion that Inderjit had long been interested in, since his days as a Methodist Minister in the Black Country. After meeting up, and Craig relocating to Sheffield the two men planned a public meeting and invited representatives from refugee and public sector organisations throughout Sheffield, including local councillors and well known campaigners. The result was a pledge by all of those present to take a proactive approach towards welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to the city and to raise awareness around issues faced by people seeking sanctuary. The movement was born and quickly caught the imagination of people in other cities and towns across the UK, with a group forming in Leicester as early as 2005. In 2007 the Sheffield City of Sanctuary group received a full motion of support from the council, and subsequently released “City of Sanctuary” the film and the first edition of “Becoming a City of Sanctuary” the handbook. Craig saw the needs of the organisation evolve from admin to local development work, to national co-ordination, before setting off for a new job and life at Hlekweni, a training organisation and farm in Zimbabwe. Inderjit went on to become the Leader of the Corrymeela Community
On Monday 31st October the assembled members elected Alan Thomas of Swansea group chair, and Martin Kariuki from Leeds as treasurer. Representatives from far and wide were elected to the board creating the first truly national board of trustees since the movement started, marking the dawn of a new era for the movement, which has developed rapidly in testimony to the dedication of all of those working to create places of safety and welcome for people seeking sanctuary among us.