Skip to main content

What groups have done with the 1st round of Guardian grants

Part 1: What Groups Have Done

Part 2: Assessment

Part 1: What Groups Have Done



Birmingham City of Sanctuary have used part of their grant to promote an exhibition of work from Schools of Sanctuary pupils on the theme of welcome and the stories of asylum seekers and refugees. A local poet also led workshops in nine schools as part of Refugee Week. It is the intention that the poet will collaborate with Birmingham City of Sanctuary to produce an anthology of the pupils’ work.  

Exeter City of Sanctuary worked with four schools (involving 350 children) and local community groups to create ‘Hands of Welcome’ trees, displayed in the foyer of the Council offices and St Sidwell’s Centre.


Cambridge City of Sanctuary is planning a workshop with Anglia Ruskin University at St Matthews Primary School, involving 30 children in year 4. It will include a theatre workshop and artwork, to explore the experiences both of seeking, and providing, sanctuary to refugee children. It will focus on wellbeing, safety and inclusion, as well as reducing discrimination and social isolation. There will also be an evaluation conducted by the University on the impact of the project.

Southampton City of Sanctuary awarded five new Schools of Sanctuary as part of their Refugee Week programme.

The ‘People and the Dales’ project have delivered ‘Refugee Voice’ workshops at two North Yorkshire Education Authority conferences, leading to a school requesting the workshop be delivered to their year 7 students and to start working towards being awarded as a School of Sanctuary.


Newcastle City of Sanctuary have been working closely with Newcastle University and the Vice Chancellor has signed a resolution of support for City of Sanctuary.


Coventry City of Sanctuary hosted a conference where the findings from two research projects on refugee mental health were presented. They used their grant to ensure those not in work could attend the conference for free.

Places of Sanctuary Waterford organised a mental health workshop.

Sanctuary Breaks, outdoor activities and bringing people together

Sanctuary Breaks and trips

The ‘People and the Dales’ project organised 39 events involving 658 individuals between Sep 2016 and Oct 2017, including 32 day events and 7 residentials. Their grant from CoS went towards the core costs involved. Participants attended from across Yorkshire and the North West and visits have included walks in various locations of varying lengths, farm visits, tree planting, woodland management, dry stone walling, cave visits, boating on the canal plus various indoor activities during the winter months.


(This second picture shows a Somali woman helping to deliver a lamb. The trip organisers didn’t realise she is a qualified vet until she jumped in to help!)

The small community of Malhamdale hosted women and their children from the Maternity Stream of the City of Sanctuary in Leeds, some staying in local homes and others staying at Malham Tarn Field Study Centre. A weekend of activities was arranged to provide fun for everyone and the Saturday evening party was a huge success.


Another weekend saw individuals from Bradford staying with families in Skipton, followed up by a World Party later in the year, where they were invited back to enjoy an evening event together with Syrian families newly resettled to the area.

Local groups in Upper Wharfedale and Otley have been engaged in awareness raising and have organised their own events, following on from these trips.  

Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees organised a trip for 120 sanctuary seekers from Cardiff, Newport and Swansea to visit Caerphilly Castle and attend a digital art exhibition. Their grant was used for travel costs and food.

Barnsley Borough City of Sanctuary organised a trip with Penistone Churches to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary organised 23 Sanctuary Breaks for 5 sanctuary seekers and 7 sanctuary seeking families as well as one day out involving local sixth form students, 10 sanctuary seekers and 1 sanctuary seeking family. These trips involved a visit to the beach and taking part in an art project.


Durham City of Sanctuary used their grant towards two trips for Syrian refugee families – one to York Christmas Markets and Castle Museum and the other to The Centre for Life Science Museum in Newcastle.

Causeway Borough of Sanctuary organised a trip for Syrian resettled families from Derry Londonderry to the Ballycastle site of the Corrymeela Community outside Coleraine. There was a play area for the children; the women had a ‘pampering’ session and the men played football. There was also a walk on the beach, sandcastle building and some brave people had a swim in the sea!

Ripon City of Sanctuary invited groups from Wakefield and Hull to Ripon for a day of activities, alongside three resettled Syrian families living in Ripon. The activities included play activities for the children, a visit to the Workhouse Museum and the Leper Chapel, lunch and a visit to Ripon Cathedral. The Mayor of Ripon joined the group for the day. The grant was used for coach fares and insurance.

Skipton Refugee Support Group have invited sanctuary seekers from Leeds and Bradford to take part in the Red Cross ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ and have also hosted two ‘World Parties’.

Outdoor Activities

Wakefield City of Sanctuary used part of their grant towards redeveloping their Sanctuary Garden.

Sanctuary Suppers

Leeds City of Sanctuary have used their grant to develop their Sanctuary Suppers project – where a local group such as a church group hosts a supper and invites sanctuary seekers to join them. Two suppers have been held so far, which were enjoyed by all. Carlton Hill Quaker Meeting House has started hosting Sanctuary Lunches once a month following on from hosting a Sanctuary Supper.



Birmingham City of Sanctuary used part of their grant to hold an ESOL forum to explore ways of increasing voluntary ESOL provision in the city. As a result, a number of providers are making ESOL available. Some business cards have been printed with a link to the ‘Welcome Map of Birmingham’ which can be given to new arrivals to help them to access services.

Camden City of Sanctuary have used their grant towards travel expenses for asylum seekers and refugees to attend the weekly conversation classes they run at the Imperial War Museum.

Manchester City of Sanctuary also used part of their grant towards bus fares for attendees of their weekly Conversation Club.


Wakefield City of Sanctuary used part of their grant to buy dictionaries and materials for their Conversation Class.

Medway City of Sanctuary used their grant towards induction support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children attending Mid Kent College, helping them to access ESOL provision, understand requirements and expectations and providing support with any issues.

Creative Workshops and Activities

Derry Londonderry City of Sanctuary have used their grant to undertake three ‘reminiscence’ workshops with six groups (mixed refugees, BME and local groups) on the theme of lullabies. Individuals brought lullabies with them that they knew which were then shared within the group and then a joint session with all the groups. They were hoping to produce a professional CD of the lullabies but were not successful in securing further funding.

Southampton City of Sanctuary applied for funding towards events for Refugee Week 2017. One of the main elements of this was a contribution to the ‘World Stages Now’ theatre group, made up of refugees and asylum seekers who performed at a shopping centre, at Nuffield Theatre in Southampton and in Brockenhurst (New Forest).

Wakefield City of Sanctuary used part of their grant towards materials for the craft table at their drop-in, where attendees can also access befriending, health advice and legal support as well as materials for the ‘Welcome Cafe’ drop in, held weekly at Urban House Induction Centre. They also used part of the grant towards developing Cultural Exchange sessions with the Art House (a Studio of Sanctuary).

Youth groups

Northampton Town of Sanctuary used their grant towards setting up a youth group for unaccompanied asylum seeking children, including for DBS checks, insurance, venue hire and equipment (a group had been running successfully but had to stop when the main organiser left). The group is run by trained volunteers and there are policies in place.



Hull City of Sanctuary have organised cricket matches and coaching sessions, involving sanctuary seeking participants of all ages, football sessions and swimming, as well as introducing women’s badminton sessions at a local community centre.

Barnsley Borough City of Sanctuary used part of their grant towards transport to football competitions (with help from Amnesty International in Barnsley and volunteer drivers) for a team made up of refugee and asylum seeking members.

City of Sanctuary Dublin organised a football match between Syrian and Chinese community groups to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Resettlement and Practical Help


Croeso Teifi used part of their grant towards the deposit, furnishing and basic essentials of a house in preparation of the arrival of a Syrian family through the resettlement scheme in Fishguard.

Stirling City of Sanctuary have organised events for resettled Syrian families in Stirling and Clackmannanshire. The first event was a Syrian welcome day in the Albert Halls in Stirling, which involved Scottish country dancing, Syrian dancing and food provided free by a local restaurant. Following on from this, they organised monthly ‘snack and chat’ events for the families which have involved information sessions, first aid and trying on kilts! A second large event was an outing for all the families to Craigtoun Country Park in Fife and then to the beach at St Andrews (where a local icecream parlour gave everyone a free icecream and a local restaurant gave a discount on their meal). Stirling CoS also hired a bus in November to take families to the pantomime at the Macrobert theatre in Stirling (who provided a number of free tickets for the Syrians). Most recently, two organisations have given their staff time to participate in ‘walk and talk’ expeditions which involve one-to-one conversations whilst walking with a Syrian refugee.

Neath Port Talbot held a Syrian and Welsh culture event to demonstrate a welcome for the 52 Syrians resettled in the area. The Syrian families enjoyed sharing their food and culture and there were also Welsh culture demonstrations and food.  


Sanctuary in Chichester have used their grant towards the costs of supporting Syrian resettled families and unaccompanied minors – including work on properties and items such as fridges and trips.

East Hoathly and Halland Village of Sanctuary have arranged visits and parties for Syrian families resettled in the surrounding areas, including a visit for a group of Syrian children and a musician to two local schools and have supported families with learning English. They have also set up a fund for activities and trips for isolated families in the future.  

Practical Help

Gateshead City of Sanctuary have worked with partners to run fortnightly drop-in sessions for asylum seekers where they can get information on safety, life in the UK and health.

Loughborough City of Sanctuary used their grant towards the food vouchers they hand out to people reporting at East Midlands Immigration Enforcement Reporting Centre, enabling them to get a meal and drink, as well as for hats, gloves and scarves. They have also had some publicity leaflets printed.

Hull City of Sanctuary manages accommodation for destitute sanctuary seekers and used part of their grant towards furnishings.

Barnsley Borough City of Sanctuary used part of their grant for clothing and footwear vouchers and thermometers to be given out by a specialist health visitor.

Bournemouth and Poole City of Sanctuary used half of their grant to create welcome baskets for newly arrived families, including items such as soaps, tea and jam. The other half was used for mini grants to help sanctuary seekers access leisure activities such as annual membership of a camera club or volleyball game fees.

Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary have also used their grant for welcome packs to give to newly arrived families. These include toiletries, towels, chocolates / biscuits, a welcome card decorated by local school children and some practical local information and maps.

Bristol City of Sanctuary have launched a Travel Fund with First Bus and have used part of their grant towards a promotional leaflet.

The Pride Without Borders project in Leicester used their grant towards their work with LGBT asylum seekers and refugees. They helped some of their members with court costs and transport to court dates and Freedom from Torture appointments. They also held social events, including a summer BBQ and attended various Pride events across the country.

Awareness Raising, Events and Campaigning

Awareness raising and Events

Croeso Teifi used part of their grant towards various awareness raising talks and events in West Wales. This involved inviting speakers to speak at local community events, including the community fair in Fishguard. This work has built support for resettling families in these towns and villages and a number of applications have been submitted to the Home Office to resettle families.


Liverpool City of Sanctuary have delivered awareness raising sessions at a range of venues, including churches and faith groups, youth groups, schools, CABs, universities and DWP/ local job centres, as well as working with the Local Authority.

Southampton City of Sanctuary held a range of events for Refugee Week 2017, including a film screening with panel discussion, a ‘Learning Day’, a women’s health fair and a ‘RefuTea’ party.

Belfast City of Sanctuary organised a ‘Great Refugee Picnic’ as part of Refugee Week and have been working since then to develop their group.

Hull City of Sanctuary have worked to raise awareness and build support among local businesses.

Swindon City of Sanctuary organised a launch event – an evening of talks, music, poetry, drama and food. This formed the start of ‘Harbour Fest’, a three day festival of events.

Bolton City of Sanctuary have organised outreach events and had a well attended AGM with food and entertainment.

Elmbridge CAN have organised several events – a ‘Refugees Welcome’ conference for 60 delegates, a volunteer information evening and a ‘Culture Kitchen’ event attended by 120 people involving food, music, dancing and conversation. Their grant was used towards catering, delegate packs for the conference, transport costs for refugees and venue hire.

Derby City of Sanctuary organised a ‘Welcome to Spring New Year ‘Nowruz’ Party’ which was attended by 300 people. They also distributed promotional materials at many events throughout the year and delivered awareness raising sessions at a range of venues including Derby Theatre, churches, women’s groups, Quad Cinema, as well as participating in Refugee Week events.

Bristol City of Sanctuary organised a Sanctuary Walk, which raised funds for their Travel Fund and raised awareness locally.

Skipton Refugee Support Group have hosted an exhibition of art work by asylum seekers (“Journeys”) at Skipton Library, arranged for Gulwali Passarlay – a refugee author from Afghanistan – to speak at Skipton Girls High School and enabled a Syrian refugee to have a food stall as part of Refugee Week 2017.

Pledges and building support

Exeter City of Sanctuary have attended and organised a number of events, including an event to encourage local organisations to pledge support to City of Sanctuary.

Newcastle City of Sanctuary used their grant to continue their work in engaging organisations with awareness raising talks and encouraging them to pledge support, as well as following that up with suggestions of practical actions that could be undertaken. They also organised a lecture by Prof Thom Brooks (Dean of Law at Durham University) and produced a ‘myth-busting’ leaflet.

Norwich City of Sanctuary have been developing work in different streams, including Schools and Faiths, as well as with a potential Theatre of Sanctuary and Cafe of Sanctuary. Part of their grant has been used towards an event to celebrate one year since the launch of Norwich City of Sanctuary.

Swansea City of Sanctuary have organised networking events for supporters.

Sheffield City of Sanctuary used their grant towards promotional materials to increase awareness of their work and drop-in, to encourage hate crime reporting and to raise funds for a ‘Welcome Centre’.

Bristol City of Sanctuary have used part of their grant towards the printing of an organisational pledge form and towards volunteer expenses for a volunteer to liaise with local businesses interested in supporting City of Sanctuary.

Reading City of Sanctuary used their grant towards establishing and developing their group, including towards promotional materials and event costs. As a result they have been able to secure 45 pledges of support from local organisations.


Exeter City of Sanctuary have formed a campaign group to engage with the Local Authority around unaccompanied asylum seeking children and the Syrian Resettlement Scheme.

Swansea City of Sanctuary have campaigned around asylum housing and have supported sanctuary seekers to give personal testimonies at important meetings about housing.

Sanctuary in Politics

City of Sanctuary Dublin continued their successful ‘Sanctuary in Politics’ course, through which students learn about the Irish political system, campaigning, engaging with the media and public speaking. Students on the course participated in a cultural night and also attended ‘Sanctuary in the Oireachtas’, where they were able to speak to the Minister of Integration and TDs.

Organisational Support and Mapping

Organisational Support

Bradford City of Sanctuary used part of their grant towards hiring a professional to draft or revise important policies for the organisation and the rest towards hiring a professional fundraiser, who secured further funding for a paid part-time Coordinator.

Swansea City of Sanctuary wanted to encourage sanctuary seekers to join their management committee so have held some events to help people learn more about what is involved and the responsibilities of the role. As a result, 9 out of 17 committee members are now sanctuary seekers and the grant has helped to pay for their travel expenses.

Cardiff City of Sanctuary used their grant towards facilitated planning meetings with an external facilitator which has helped to develop a vision and mission, as well as a work plan.

Manchester City of Sanctuary used part of their grant towards the costs of an Administrator and have developed systems and policies as a result.

Places of Sanctuary Waterford provided a four week ‘Sanctuary in Governance’ workshop for refugee community organisations on topics such as governance and financial procedures and a ‘Sanctuary in Politics’ course on topics such as the Irish political system and public speaking, followed by the ‘Sanctuary in the Oireachtas’ event where students met the Minister of Integration and spoke with TDs and senators.

Sheffield City of Sanctuary plan to use part of their grant for a sign for their new ‘Welcome Centre’.


Birmingham City of Sanctuary used part of their grant to hold a mapping exercise and have started work on a digital ‘Welcome Map of Birmingham’ which shows different asylum support services in Birmingham.


Part 2: Assessment

  1. What groups have found has worked well

Many groups have commented on the easy and uncomplicated nature of the grants application process and support from City of Sanctuary.  Groups liked that it was open and non-prescriptive, enabling them to focus on what they wanted to focus on and said that it built on trust already established with groups.

One group commented that the application process encouraged them to focus their thinking and get things moving in the planning of activities.

As a result of activities enabled by these grants, groups have increased their supporter bases and developed relationships with partners. Events that have involved new arrivals or visiting sanctuary seekers and local communities have led to friendships and the enjoyment of all participants.

Working in partnership has increased the reach and impact of projects.

Groups have learned from their activities and commented that planning, preparation and building trust with participants helped to ensure activities were successful.

This basic grant has led some groups to be successful in larger grant applications.

  1. Impact of projects

Groups were not specifically asked to monitor the impact of their projects when the grants were offered and most groups have commented that they have found it difficult to measure impact.

However, some comments that have been offered by groups around impact are:

One Syrian family has been resettled in Narberth and another application is underway. Events undertaken by Croeso Teifi have helped to build local support for the idea of resettlement.

Hull City of Sanctuary have reported positive behavioural changes and less anxiety amongst those supported through the accommodation for destitute sanctuary seekers that they manage.

Sanctuary seekers have been helped in practical ways (eg. Transport Fund in Bristol).

Loughborough City of Sanctuary have seen an increased number of food vouchers being taken and used by sanctuary seekers attending East Midlands Reporting Centre.

Gateshead City of Sanctuary have surveyed asylum seekers who have attended their drop-in sessions and reported increased confidence (60% of respondents), increased engagement with other communities (80%) and increased confidence to book appointments with GPs and other health services (72%).

There is now a theatre buddy system in Derby and refugees volunteering at the museum.

Sanctuary seekers have been able to attend ESOL classes (Camden) and Conversation Clubs (Manchester).

Organisation pledges in Exeter have resulted in 9 Exeter FC football match tickets being taken up (with 80 more planned) and 100 Stagecoach bus tickets being used. Funds have also been raised by pledged organisations for resettled families.

In Newcastle, awareness raising talks have resulted in increased donations of toiletries, clothing and household items to the West End Refugee Services’ Clothing Store where sanctuary seekers can obtain free items. Talks have inspired people to get in touch about ways in which sanctuary seekers can become involved in local activities, including a girls’ basketball club and there have been more individuals getting in touch regarding volunteering at local refugee charities.

Liverpool City of Sanctuary estimate they have reached 12,000 children through their work with partners on the Schools of Sanctuary project.

Across many groups, communities have been engaged in workshops and awareness raising events, reaching many hundreds of individuals.  

Groups have been able to expand and develop their work and have become better known in their cities (Belfast, Hull, Bristol), leading to interest in new areas.

There has been positive local media coverage (Swindon, Bristol).

Sanctuary seekers have been engaged in activities and the management of groups and been enabled to attend events and meetings: “I would like to say as a newcomer to Swansea (as of beginning of 2017), the opportunity to attend the Networking meeting was like a new door opened to me.”

Trips, events and activities have been enjoyed by sanctuary seekers and have made them feel happy, welcomed and valued. Some quotes:

  • “You made us forget our troubles – just for one evening”, Father of SVRP Family
  • “That was the best party I have ever been to!”, Refugee child, 9 years old.
  • “How did you find us? We don’t know any families and have been feeling isolated. Thanks to you so much”, Mother of SVRP family arrived 4 months ago.
  • “All the families thoroughly enjoyed themselves and will have some very happy memories of their first visit to a new city” (Linda from Wakefield CoS commenting on visit from Wakefield to Ripon).
  • “You were an absolute blessing to me and my family and it was a pleasure to meet you all.  If there’s anything I or the church family in my care can do for you and you’re folk please ask.  I’ll show the pixs to our lovely congregation at St. Leonard’s. Please send my best wishes to all who were there.” (Anne Russell, the local vicar in Bentham after hosting visitors from Darwen, organised by People and the Dales)
  • “The Broadrake trip was amazing! We enjoyed it a lot, especially the place as it’s so full of peace. Also we met new people, we shared food, we chatted and shared our thoughts and feelings, we laughed, sang and we learned about places and making things. I must say it is a blessing being with nature and such lovely people. We are very fortunate.” (a guest staying in Broadrake on a residential visit organised by People and the Dales).

Beneficiaries have said that Sanctuary Breaks have given them an opportunity to experience English culture in a way they hadn’t before (in someone’s house), taste English food (they typically cook their own food at home), and practice English more intensively than they ever had the opportunity to do in their placement city.

People and the Dales say:

“Through this work there have been many unexpected outcomes. The People and the DALES staff have become very involved with Craven Refugee Support Group, running Skipton events jointly, inviting PaD participants to speak at events and helping to work to obtaining Town of Sanctuary status for Skipton.  Here are some of the other outcomes:-
More refugee and asylum seekers getting out of the cities and being involved in PaD events.
Links being made between rural and urban groups – Skipton linking with BIASAN in Bradford, Upper Wharfedale linking with DARE in Darwen, Bentham linking with Red Cross in Bradford.
Local people getting involved in practical action.
Encounters being had that might not otherwise have taken place.
Stories being told.
Friendships being forged.
Greater understanding of refugee issues being made.
Schools becoming involved
Fund raising been done.
‘Stuff’ being collected and distributed to those in need.”

  1. Challenges for groups in running their projects

Many groups reported no challenges or difficulties with their projects. Several groups have commented that it would have been helpful to have had the end of report template sent to them when their grant was approved. Some groups with less experience of funding reports found it challenging to complete the template.

Securing continuation funding or funding for additional elements was an issue for some groups, as well as securing core funding for coordination.

The logistics of planning large-scale events were challenging. Some groups held successful events that brought in a lot of interest that they were not prepared for.

Developing a volunteer base for admin roles has been a challenge for some groups, whilst relying on volunteers to coordinate projects such as a drop-in can be problematic and paid coordination could help facilitate continuity and reliability in management / coordination. Other groups have found it challenging matching up volunteer interest with practical things for them to do. One group found it difficult to break the precedent of volunteers contributing certain items, even when funding was available!

A strong steering group has been needed to support groups which have paid coordination.  

The legalities of governance and structure caused problems for some groups. One group has reported problems with identity – having a huge amount of initial interest from volunteers but then difficulties in reconciling differing opinions about what the group should be doing and who it should work with.

Some groups have struggled to provide precise steps for their Local Authority to follow up their initial enthusiasm and support, whilst others have had difficulties working with their Local Authority.

Some groups have reported an imbalance of activities towards women, whilst others have reported an imbalance of activities towards men.

Finally, more consultation with refugee communities may have led to increased participation for some groups.