Skip to main content

Successful and enjoyable AGM in Sunny Leicester

“Our best ever AGM”

“So lovely to meet so many like-minded people from all over the country!”

“Leicester and Loughborough groups were so kind and hospitable”

For those able to travel the day before, our AGM began on Sunday 19th April with informal networking and chatting over drinks and pizza in a lovely pub setting, before we went upstairs to the ‘Theatre in a Pub’ to be treated to a moving and powerful performance of ‘Sanctum’ by Sam and Ardi from Sheffield. We were treated to amazing hospitality as the Leicester and Loughborough groups opened up their homes for many of us to stay over, and Leicester also looked after all our food needs for the two days.

The sense of warmth continued the following day, reflected and assisted by glorious sunshine and an ideal venue with a big garden, courtesy of Leicester Quakers. Maurice Wren, CEO of Refugee Council and wonderful supporter of City of Sanctuary, gave us an inspiring call to action as he outlined the challenges we face and how we need to position ourselves to face them effectively. We also heard reports from our coordinator and chair as well as stories from around the network.
Cos AGM 2015 (3)


Much of our day was spent listening to the views of the network, and a report on that process follows.

Summary Report on the Consultation held at CoS AGM April 20th 2015

 “Everyone contributed enthusiastically and positively and in particular the voice of sanctuary seekers was clearly heard.”

Thanks to Caroline Beatty, Sarah Eldridge and Will Sutcliffe for coordinating a well-structured consultation session at the AGM which created many ideas and also fed into some of the afternoon workshop sessions. The consultation session was based on the current work by the national team according to the action plan of the last three years and summarised in a document  sent out in advance.

Present contact with network team

Participants mentioned a host of connections with the national team including support, guidance, national networking, Sanctuary in Parliament, Sanctuary Summit, newsletters, website, streams etc.

What local Groups want from the national team: 

“The key messages I got were that local groups would like national to research, collate and disseminate info etc that’s beyond the capacity (and would be duplicated anyway) of local groups, such as asylum facts, and campaigning materials, as well as stuff that’s already there in resources section.  And local groups look to national to get the messages out to the national platforms, onto national media etc.  They’re happy to supply case studies to that process.”

Many requests were already being met to some extent (newsletters, awareness raising / mythbusting resources, regional meetings, e-groups, streams resources, funding advice, national partnerships and campaigns). This has alerted the national team to communication issues which need addressing and that emails, social media and the website may be insufficient tools for these.  Other requests included – guidance on how to contact local councils and MPs, speaking at local meetings, more regional networking and training events, a travel fund, more effective communication.

Possible Actions:

  • Regional training, meetings and themed conferences as far as capacity allows
  • Travel Fund to increase access to regional events
  • More sharing of resources and governance documents on the website
  • More sharing of services across cities for referrals and welcome projects
  • Every local group to have links with a staff member or Trustee
  • Media training and press briefings templates as appropriate
  • Develop power of story-telling from sanctuary seekers
  • Volunteer training (asylum process/doing awareness talks etc.)
  • Guidelines about formation and management of steering group
  • Guidelines for working with councils etc
  • Policies available for local groups (website)
  • Develop Streams packs



Raising Public Awareness:

Lots of ideas were shared on creative ways for getting our message out both locally and nationally with the need for more training, more resources especially “how to . . . resources”, more case studies and storytelling, use of the website and accessing the support and training available from our partners – e.g. Red Cross, Refugee Council as well as using the arts and local media.

Possible Actions:

  • Fundraise to develop and publish resources around streams
  • Media Training at regional level (including preparation for radio interviews, developing relationships with key local journalists etc.)
  • Training for storytelling and development of case studies
  • Publishing stories and case studies on the website
  • Review the Resources section on Awareness Raising, including a guide to running an awareness session and ensure that all groups know about this
  • Consider awareness training packs to include target audiences ( e.g. Health practitioners, Job Centre staff,
  • Production of press releases for local groups to adapt in response to national events
  • Develop a strategy for promoting Sanctuary Champions
  • Awareness raising training and resources




Ways of building a Sanctuary Alliance


Overall there was very positive energy around building on the work to date (e.g. Sanctuary Summit) and a clear recognition of the value and opportunities of connecting the wider sector at a national level, for campaigns for change, avoidance of duplication and for local alliance building and credibility. The open letter to Cameron published on the day following the AGM in The Independent and signed by 19 charities was considered a good example of the growing sanctuary movement.  There were calls to progress and build on the Birmingham Declaration as well as campaigns such as Syria resettlement and prevention of the Mediterranean drownings. Issues such as communication and data base building were raised and the importance of joint work around the media and parliamentary lobbying, including promoting the APPG on Refugees. It was also recognised that cuts at local level was decimating multi-agency refugee forums.


Possible Actions: (As capacity and the support of local groups and national partners allow)

  • Revitalise work around the Birmingham Declaration after the Election including getting more signatories
  • OR – rechannel that energy into campaigns that are more focussed
  • Engage the mainstream such as British Future
  • Develop a stronger communication strategy across organisations
  • Set up a Sanctuary Alliance page on the CoS website (or link to the Sanctuary Summit website and promote this?)



Below you can see the main recommendations for the network to consider from each workshop. Fuller outlines of what happened in each workshop can be obtained from workshop leaders.

  1. Campaigning

The recommendation for the national board which came out of the workshop was that there should be more frequent communication to local groups on next steps and follow up to campaigning initiatives (what was happening with the Birmingham Declaration was specifically mentioned) and facilitating greater communication between different groups about what campaigning is being undertaken and what has been successful.
Many local group members do not seem to be receiving campaigning updates or newsletters and that one simple action could be to try and get more individuals onto this e-list .


  1. Sanctuary Alliance

Next time make the guidelines for something like Birmingham Declaration more clear.

Communications to be more streamlined.

Possible Summit type events in regions?

Recommendation to nominate ‘Champions of Sanctuary’ – including well known personalities who have stood up for sanctuary. During the final plenary, Sarah Teather was unanimously named as the first Champion of Sanctuary.


  1. Fundraising

For the national CoS group it might be possible to circulate widely names of trustees of national funders, e.g of the Tudor Trust and others, in order to attempt to find trustees known to Members of CoS. Contact might then be made with these Trustees to seek advice on how to set up funding bids.

Have fundraising section for local groups on website.


  1. Website

Website – recommendations include training of local groups

  1. Local City of Sanctuary and Streams Work

Develop and publish guidelines on a volunteer role and how to use volunteers. Link with City of Sanctuary policies e.g. Health and Safety, Safeguarding, Child protection.

  1. Refugee Week

For Refugee Week 2015, we’re inviting you to share your story of how a refugee has made a difference to you or your community. Tell it through a photo, video, poem, drawing or however you like and get it to us by 18 May*, and your story will become part of a big collective online noise celebrating the contributions refugees make to the UK. Click here to get started.







 City of Sanctuary

Name of Meeting: AGM

DATE: 20.4.15

Attendance: see attendance list

Apologies: Trustees: Nick Gill, Nacera Harkati, Dennis Minnis, Herbert Dirahu, Groups: Wolverhampton, Swindon, Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool, Waterford, Coleraine, Edinburgh, Doncaster, Reading, Oxford, Huddersfield, Belfast, Brighton.

Minutes take by: Jeni Vine

Chair: Alan Thomas


Item details


1 Welcome and apologies
2 Minutes from previous meetingWere accepted as a true record.

Matters arising/action points from previous meeting



Co-ordinator’s report

As in Annual Report


Chair’s report

As in Annual Report


Annual accounts

The meeting approved the annual accounts. The Treasurer gave a brief overview.


Electing trustees

The attached sheets show which trustees have stood down and which were present for re-election. The meeting approved all the proposals for election to the Trustee Board. There were no votes against.

8 Electing officersThe following officers were approved for re-election:Chair: Alan Thomas; Vice-Chair: Jonathan Ellis; Secretary: Jeni Vine; Treasurer: Andrew White.  
9 Issues related to constitutional amendments and broadening Trustee representationThe Chair put forward as a motion and this was unanimously agreed:Maximum Number of TrusteesIn line with Clause 16(5) of the Constitution, the total number of Trustees shall be not more than 24.


Reserved Places for Co-opted Trustees

In addition to those Trustees elected at an AGM or appointed by Trustees between AGMs to fill gaps in representation or skills, up to four Trustee places will be reserved for co-option of individuals from other refugee and partner organisations.


10 Sarah Teather was nominated as the first Champion of Sanctuary.Nomination unanimously accepted.  



Nominations to the City of Sanctuary national trustee board – April 2015

Re-standing for election after 3 years’ service

Jonathan EllisJonathan Ellis is currently Head of Policy, Research and Advocacy at the British Red Cross and is Vice-Chair of Trustees of the national City of Sanctuary charity. He is also a visiting lecturer at City University in London on the MA in political communication. In addition he leads advocacy campaigns training for BOND, INTRAC, NVCO and the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.Previously he was director of advocacy at the British Refugee Council, chief executive at the Empty Homes Agency and has led UK and international campaigns for Oxfam GB. He has extensive experience of delivering advocacy campaigns training and support across the world including: Bangladesh, Haiti, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand and across Europe.Jonathan is also Chair of the Bishop Simeon Trust (supporting orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa) and a trustee of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum (MRCF) in West London.
Roger NyantouThrough his various roles Roger has developed a passion for bringing people and groups together, as he believes the refugee sector could be much stronger and more effective through stronger and more open partnerships.Roger is currently working as a manager with Northern Refugee Centre-RETAS Leeds.  Since arriving here in the UK, he has worked in the public, private and voluntary sector running projects related to aspects of refugee integration.


He is a trustee for the national City of Sanctuary charity as well as being actively involved in the Leeds group and through his work and volunteering activities has developed a growing desire to see the huge potential of refugees and other migrants realised and recognised.




Alan Thomas Co-founder of Swansea City of Sanctuary and has been Chair of Trustees of the national City of Sanctuary charity since October 2011.  He is a Quaker and a retired academic, having been Professor of International Development at the Centre for Development Studies, Swansea University and previously a co-founder of the Development Policy and Practice group and the Global Programme in Development Management at The Open University.

Nominations of people co-opted to the national trustee board over the past year

Caroline Beatty“Since 2003 I have been privileged to work broadly with refugees and sanctuary seekers in Bristol – as a volunteer with Refugee Action, as an ally and admin worker with newly formed Refugee Women of Bristol, and as a member of Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers Campaign.  I began as the first paid coordinator (one day / week) for Bristol Refugee Rights in 2006, and  retired as manager of BRR in 2014, which over 8 years has grown into a thriving organization, including the fundamental welcome service, language tuition, advocacy support, and a volunteering programme, coordinated by 12 part-time staff. The philosophy of BRR is contained in its key message “Safety – Solidarity – Action for Change”  i.e., first create a place of welcome and safety, then develop solidarity, and then work together in practical ways to bring about change.Bristol became a City of Sanctuary in 2011.  In Bristol we have focused on networking with the wide range of excellent local organisations and enabling the voice of sanctuary seekers to be heard in the city.  We have many active campaigners including both sanctuary seekers and allies.I am convinced that the City of Sanctuary movement can help create a climate and platform in and from which to produce real change in public attitudes and policy responses towards refugees.  As a trustee, I should be glad to support its work and continue to enable the direct voice of sanctuary seekers to be heard through the national City of Sanctuary network.” 
Mel CooperMel is a registered nurse and midwife working at the University of Bradford as a lecturer and researcher. She developed an interest in undertaking research around sanctuary seekers in 2004 and developed a passion to improve health and maternity services in terms of access, positive experiences and healthy outcomes. Consequently, she became involved with the City of Sanctuary and developing the maternity and health streams.“I feel honoured to have met and worked with so many sanctuary seeking women who have such a wealth of knowledge and experience that people in the UK can learn from. I have seen them contribute so much to midwifery and other health professional education at the university and more widely at national and international conferences and other events. Through being a trustee for the City of Sanctuary, I hope to help the voice of sanctuary seekers to be heard even louder. I also hope to contribute my knowledge to the continued growth of a vital network of people and organisation across the UK.”
Rodrigo Edema Rodrigo is the Project Coordinator of City of Sanctuary Sheffield (COSS) and works in partnership with agencies across the Yorkshire and Humberside region. His role involves supporting, registration, liaising with medical Clinics, introductory briefing sessions to services and how to access them and signposting to other agencies.“As a refugee, I have a long history of involvement with and working with refugees and asylum seekers both in Africa and in the UK. As a field coordinator with Sudan Human Right Association, I coordinated and implemented capacity building programmes and personnel training workshops for Sudanese refugees’ communities around the great lake region of Africa especially in DR Congo, Southern Sudan, Northern Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia.


“I hold a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management and also the Chartered Institute of Housing UK qualification. I am a trustee of (ASSIST) and Sheffield Health International Partnership (SHIP). I feel honoured to be co-opted as City of Sanctuary national trustee.  I bring genuine qualities that arise from my personal experience as a refugee.”

Andrew White Chartered accountant aged 65 and mostly retired. Co-opted as national City of Sanctuary treasurer.For 25 years up to 2013, finance director of group of private companies trading from 15+ locations in England. Role included responsibility for IT, HR, payroll, insurance, pensions etc.Currently trustee and treasurer of asylum support charity in Southampton. He also volunteers for a local Citizen’s Advice Bureau and is involved in local community activities. Other interests include cricket and gardening.



New nominations to the board of trustees

Owen Fenn “Having worked for the past few years as a case worker at the Scottish Refugee Council, case worker at an asylum & immigration law firm, and now as a development worker at Govan & Craigton Integration Network, I have dedicated a significant amount of time trying to assist, and welcome asylum seekers, refugees, and any form of migrant to our country.  Furthermore, having spent time both coordinating casework and as a member of the board for the board of the Glasgow night shelter for destitute asylum seekers, I believe I have an acute understanding of the stigmas & problems that irregular migrants face, and some of the ways to help to overcome them.
“If elected to the board of City of Sanctuary, I would love to join the ‘Development and Fund​raising’ sub-group, both due to my professional work, and as a chair of a social enterprise.  Furthermore, I believe that a lot of the work that is being done in Scotland aligns closely with the objectives of City of Sanctuary as an organisation, and that Glasgow is definitely a City of Sanctuary already.  However, I would like to help raise the profile of the organisation within Scotland and to develop further inter-organisational relationships.”
Nick Gill“I co-ordinate asylum-network, an affiliation of researchers and academics working on issues related to seeking asylum, border control and the challenges facing migrants. I have had extensive experience of designing research in partnership with asylum seeking and refugee communities, collecting evidence for research with asylum seeking and refugee communities and disseminating to these communities and beyond. Presently I am leading a major three year project that examines the practices of judges, home office presenting officers and court staff involved in conducting first tier immigration asylum appeals across the UK.“As an academic I have access to a rich set of networks and contacts, from former research participants, to numerous target audiences, other academics and students – both undergraduate and postgraduate. Student populations in particular are well placed to lend support in all sorts of ways. Since Asylum-Network joined the Detention Forum in early 2014 for instance, my PhD students have been involved as twitter officers and in many other ways. I see the student body of the United Kingdom as a valuable resource for the Sanctuary movement and would hope to explore that resource as a trustee.“In 2013 the Exeter City of Sanctuary group was set up, led by students from the University of Exeter. Over two short years we have held a range of awareness raising events, undertaken training and fundraising, reached out to detainees in nearby Weymouth (at the new Verne detention) centre, petitioned for Exeter to become a dispersal area (we hope successfully), and taken steps towards making the University of Exeter the first University of Sanctuary.“Becoming a trustee of City of Sanctuary nationally would mean that lots of exciting opportunities would open up for activities such as accessing funding streams, working together to evidence certain aspects of the asylum and refugee experience in the UK, disseminating to key target audiences including nationally such as in Parliament and supporting sanctuary seekers and groups that support them. I have experience in managing teams, public speaking, research, advocacy, teaching and event organising and am excited about working as a trustee in the coming years.”


Pam Inder“I have been involved with Leicester City of Sanctuary since 2008. I joined the Management Committee in 2009 and was Chair from 2010 to 2013. In that time we set up a drop-in centre (which has succeeded beyond our wildest expectations), the NEST (New Evidence Search Team) which has attracted a good deal of attention nationally, and various other projects. In 2014 I again became Chair (the name of the role changed to ‘Coordinator’ in October) but plan to stand down finally at the AGM on May 9th because I feel it is unhealthy for one person to lead an organisation for too long. I can, however, claim to have learnt a good deal about the asylum system, managing volunteers and City of Sanctuary as a whole over the last six and a half years.“In my working life I was a museum curator in Local Authority museums – essentially a mid-level manager – and later a university lecturer and researcher. I therefore have management skills and am an experienced speaker and communicator. I am also a writer and editor – my tenth book (popular social history) goes to press later this year.


“I believe very strongly in the need to change the asylum system and to support those people unfortunate enough to have to go through it. I feel City of Sanctuary is increasingly well placed to do this and I would very much like the opportunity to be part of this development.”


Sabir Zazai Sabir a former refugee from Afghanistan is the Centre Director of Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC), an organisation that once helped Sabir through his own settlement in Coventry. He is also chair of the Coventry Ethnic Minorities Action Partnership (CEMAP) and he previously managed the Migration Impact Fund locally. He also led ‘Sorted’ a major improving financial confidence programme at Coventry Citizens Advice Bureau. Sabir’s knowledge of the difficulties faced by refugees is strengthened by the practical experiences of going through the asylum system and by researching the subject of refugee integration through his MA studies at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.