On Saturday 29th February, 18 participants who are all seeking sanctuary in the UK graduated from the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside Sanctuary in Politics course, held at St Aidan’s College, Durham.
The presentations demonstrated a high level of engagement around issues that people seeking sanctuary face, including raising awareness around racism and discrimination in schools, lobbying local MPs on the Right to Work campaign and engaging local authorities in public service provision.
This region’s Sanctuary in Politics course began in September 2019, with a 3-day residential where successful participants received training from experts in campaigning, community engagement, and working with the media. Participants were then invited to undertake a piece of work around a key issue they wanted to work on over a 5 month period, with the support of mentors from City of Sanctuary local groups. They were then given the opportunity to share their findings to an audience of their colleagues, along with City of Sanctuary staff and key political influencers. (Click here for one such example, a video made by Iman, Sanctuary in Politics graduate living in West Yorkshire, that shows us campaign to help people seeking sanctuary increase access to bank accounts).
Baroness Maeve Sherlock (Member of the House of Lords from the Labour Party), Jen Laws (Asylum Matters Campaign Manager for the North East), Alison Barnes (Councillor for the Liberal Democrats in Redcar and Cleveland) and Siân Summers-Rees (City of Sanctuary Chief Officer) all attended the afternoon session and provided much deserved encouragement as well as advice for graduates on how to develop their projects further.
This is the forth Sanctuary in Politics course that City of Sanctuary have run and remains one of the charity’s key activities to equip the next generation of leaders in the skills and experience needed to build the sanctuary movement, as well as ensuring City of Sanctuary is lead by those with lived experience of seeking sanctuary.
One of the participants, Gaida, expressed:
“I am really grateful for City of Sanctuary staff for organising [the course] and am inspired by the work [the participants] did and are going to do…. What we are doing now is creating a movement of change and the impact of it will help all refugees and asylum seeker communities as well as the British community”
You can find more stories from the day on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #SanctuaryInPolitics.