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Our conference and AGM: thank you!

We were delighted to host our annual conference and AGM in Bradford last week. This was the first time in three years that our networks have been together in person, and it was incredible.

The theme of this year’s conference was Inspiring Resilience.

The last few years have been particularly tough for people seeking sanctuary and those who support them: the pandemic, increasingly hostile government policies, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine are only some of the issues.

But despite hostility and division pushed by politicians and the press, thousands of ordinary people around the country are stepping up to support people seeking sanctuary in our communities.

From schools and universities to local councils, libraries and arts organisations, our networks ensure that wherever people seeking sanctuary go they are met with understanding, kindness and empowering opportunities.

After so many setbacks, hurdles and tragedies – this day was about celebrating what gives us all resilience and hope to keep going.

It was wonderful to celebrate the fantastic contribution of the conference hosts – Bradford City of Sanctuary, who have been setting the bar for other cities in terms of how it is welcoming people seeking sanctuary.

Sian Summer-Rees, City of Sanctuary UK, Chief Officer said: “We couldn’t have asked for better hosts for this incredible event. Bradford truly exemplifies what it is to be a City of Sanctuary. From the local council to the university, schools, gardens and even a train station – every aspect of this community is committed to showing compassion and welcome to people forced to flee. They set the bar for other cities in terms of how to welcome people seeking sanctuary.”

Over the past year, a number of new spaces across the district have been awarded City of Sanctuary status, the most recent being Horton Community Farm, which was the first garden in the North to be given this accolade.

The day also saw speakers and attendees from local Bradford Sanctuary awarded institutions: Bradford Council, awarded Council of Sanctuary; Bradford Interchange, awarded Station of Sanctuary; Bradford College, awarded College of Sanctuary; and Horton Community Farm, awarded Garden of Sanctuary.

Other attendees included Dr Sabir Zazai, Inderjit Bhogal, people with lived experience of seeking sanctuary now living in Bradford and elsewhere, community groups providing direct aid provision to new arrivals and campaigners from Asylum Matters, IMIX, Migration Yorkshire and the Mental Health Foundation.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended. Each and every one of you make City of Sanctuary what it is. To everyone in this movement of welcome, thank you!

If you did enjoy the day and would like to make a donation to help cover costs, we would be incredibly grateful. Click here to make a donation.