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City of Sanctuary Update from the Chair and Chief Officer

Dear City of Sanctuary Friends,

As there is a lot of change at City of Sanctuary UK we wanted to update all of our supporters across our network.

The expanding interest in both setting up new groups (12 new groups joined our network in 2019 taking our total to 111) and in engaging with our streams continues to amaze and delight us. We continue at a national level to do our best to respond to this demand; it is such a wonderful sign of the positive force of welcome spreading across our country!

We have had some success in fundraising to support this wider interest in our mission, but did receive a set back before the new year when a particular large funder decided not to fund us despite reaching their final stage.

As a result, we have had to make the very difficult decision to reduce our regional coordinator capacity and will be losing Sam Slatcher who has done so much to support our groups in the North-East. From April 1, Sara Trewhitt, our Yorkshire coordinator will also extend her support to the North-East. We are delighted that Sam will remain active on a voluntary basis with our Arts Stream and wish him well with his music social enterprise.

We are also going to be losing Ben Margolis, our Streams and Partnership Manager (as well as regional coordinator for the Midlands, East, London and South-East) but we can’t be too unhappy as he is going on to coordinate an international civil society project focused on human rights, environmental justice and economic justice. We are so grateful for his inspiring work developing groups across his region and his leadership on working with local authorities and our streams, particularly with regards to University of Sanctuary and Gardens of Sanctuary. Ben is also not going too far, as he has agreed to join our board of trustees.

Colleen took on the new role of Communications Manager at the end of last year, after providing leadership and support for streams and awards work for some time. She will be leading exciting new work to improve communications across the network (more information coming soon).

Our streams work will continue to be a team effort, with Sara leading on schools, shops and colleges, Siân on faiths and Colleen on libraries. Nicola will continue in her role as the South West Coordinator but will also provide support for Gardens of Sanctuary. Jeff will continue as the Volunteer North West Regional Coordinator. Gün continues to offer support to groups and streams in Scotland. We are also currently recruiting for a new regional co-ordinator to support our groups in the Midlands and East of England. The new coordinator will offer distance support to groups in London and the South-East whilst we fundraise for a coordinator for that region. Siân will lead our work on working with local authorities.

The University of Sanctuary stream has expanded rapidly and following a consultation exercise we have agreed to introduce an accreditation fee for the University of Sanctuary Award from the 1st March details are here – we want to stress that there are no plans to charge for other Sanctuary Awards. With this income, we have been able to recruit Abigail Grace, who was co-author of the Universities of Sanctuary resource pack, to help us build on this interest. Abigail can be contacted at [email protected].

We are also going to see changes in our relationship with Asylum Matters. We have been proud to host Asylum Matters over the last 3 years, and we have taken great delight as this new campaigning network has flourished. We now both think that the time is right for Asylum Matters to explore becoming independent. But we are determined that our close relationship will continue. We will continue to collaborate on Sanctuary in Parliament, we will promote their campaigns, and they will always, of course, be warmly welcome at our regional gatherings and national conference.

So, there’s a lot happening at the moment! We are really keen that we do our best to make the most of this incredible interest in our mission, but with our limited resources we know that we need to make important strategic decisions so that we can consolidate and build on this culture of welcome. Please note that all our staff and volunteers work part-time so we hope you will bear with us, and find ways to continue to support each other, through a period of time where our capacity will be more limited.

We know that we are nothing without our groups and streams. We are on an exhilarating journey, and we are keen to keep talking and sharing so that we all stay together. Our regional gatherings will continue to be vital for us, and we hope that some of you will be able to join our Network Voice discussions and to see many more of you at our AGM in Bradford on 24th June 2020.

And we always love to hear from you – so do please keep those communications coming so that we can continue to build a culture of welcome across the UK – there has surely never been a more important time to do so!

Thanks for your support

Siân Summers-Rees                                                Jonathan Ellis

Chief Officer                                                             Chair of Trustees