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Congratulations to the Tower Hamlets Childcare Scheme for a Sanctuary award!

City of Sanctuary is delighted to recognise The Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme for its work to welcome those fleeing conflict. They received the Sanctuary Award, and are the first holiday club in the United Kingdom to be recognised in this way.

City of Sanctuary UK recognises networks, groups and organisations which foster a welcoming and inclusive culture for people who are fleeing violence or persecution.

St Mary St Michael School holiday scheme

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I’m delighted that our holiday childcare scheme has received a Sanctuary Award. The East End has a long and proud tradition of welcoming people from all over the world, especially those who have escaped war and persecution.

“By introducing children to the contribution that people seeking sanctuary make to our community, we can foster a welcoming and inclusive culture from an early age.”

To be eligible for the award, the scheme had to demonstrate that it had prioritised learning, action and sharing. This means understanding what it means to be seeking sanctuary, taking positive action to welcome and include asylum seekers and refugees, and sharing a vision and achievements to let others know about the positive contribution that people seeking sanctuary make to our society and the benefits of a welcoming culture for everyone.

James Thomas, Corporate Director – Children and Culture, said: “It’s vital that we embed a welcoming and inclusive culture in all our services. I’m proud of the work done by our holiday childcare team to get this award, the first of its kind in the country. The scheme is underpinned by the value of inclusivity and has a strong track record of welcoming and supporting children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“I hope it will act as a catalyst for further conversations across the council, and in society more widely, about the positive contribution made by those seeking sanctuary.”

Work towards the award has allowed the holiday childcare scheme to develop and enhance a culture that boosts inclusion and support for everyone whilst increasing children’s voices and promoting active, engaged citizens under a framework that promotes British values, community cohesion and empathy.

Future initiatives include inviting guest speakers with a lived experience of seeking sanctuary to share their stories with staff and children at the scheme, alongside a continued focus on ensuring diversity and inclusion is reflected across all their childcare resources.

About the Holiday Childcare Scheme

The Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme is Ofsted registered and provides childcare for children aged three to 13.

Other work that contributed to this award included:

  • Training staff at daily briefings and meetings on people seeking sanctuary.
  • Coordinating and hosting workshops from Global Learning London for children on identity, migration, refugees, and asylum seekers.
  • Purchasing additional resources such as children’s story books focused on people seeking sanctuary.
  • Highlighting their inclusion work in regular communications to scheme customers.

For more information on achieving the Sanctuary Award click here.