On Saturday 23 March, CoS volunteers and coordinators from across the Yorkshire & Humberside region joined Colleen Molloy, National Development Officer, Sara Trewhitt Yorkshire Regional Coordinator and Gün Orgun, Scotland Coordinator in Leeds for a workshop on the Schools of Sanctuary stream. Joanna Spooner, Finance Officer on the national team also attended in support of the Leeds CoS SoS steering committee.

The idea for the workshop developed out of a greatly increased demand from groups and schools in Yorkshire seeking support to implement the Schools of Sanctuary stream. This increase in regional interest in the stream has coincided with expanded efforts at the national level to provide coherence to the SoS stream so it was deemed important to develop a workshop to share information, seek consultation and provide some direct support to regional groups.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To get everyone in the region who is interested in SoS together and talking
  • To present an update on national stream activity and to introduce and consult on draft criteria & guidelines
  • To develop a shared approach to assessing and working with schools
  • To Share ideas & resources to support Yorkshire & Humberside CoS groups going forward

The day’s programme included the following sessions:

  • An update on the national stream and introduction of the draft criteria and guidelines for schools was provided by Colleen Molloy, and then by followed by group discussions about the criteria.
  • “Working with schools” presented by Mary Blacka, former SoS Coordinator for Bradford, which outlined how she engaged with schools and template documents. This was followed again with group discussions with volunteers sharing their experiences.
  • Making regional connections sessions was facilitated by Sara Trewhitt in which the plenary discussed how to support each other across the region and share insights.
  • Gün Orgun facilitated the Wish Fairy exercise which gave attendees an opportunity to provide immediate feedback on the workshop, including identifying tools to take away, wishes for the future, and things they loved.

Overall, attendees were pleased to get an overview of the streams work, and the efforts by national CoS to make SoS more robust and uniform across the UK. The idea of criteria was warmly received, and all felt that standardising the requirements for a SoS award was important to the growth and recognition of stream. In the group discussions, the attendees reviewed the draft criteria. Attendees were asked to assess each criterion for achievability, usefulness and appropriateness and to check the language. Following on the input from workshop attendees, the national CoS team is now re-working the criteria.

There was a lot of support to finding ways to continue communicating as SoS practitioners both regionally and locally with a series of next steps outlined to include: evaluating whether further similar workshops can be held to consult further with local CoS groups across the country; revising the criteria and guidelines and identifying new ways of communicating across the region and country.

Here is an updated version of the Draft Revised Guidelines  and minimum criteria for Schools of Sanctuary. Please send any thoughts or comments to [email protected] We are planning a further consultation network meetings including with local authorities in the North West who are delivering Schools of Sanctuary awards. Please let us know if you would like a Schools of Sanctuary network consultation meeting in your area.