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Tyneside attractions recognised as Museums of Sanctuary

We are delighted that nine popular Tyneside visitor attractions managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums have been recognised as Museums of Sanctuary.

Sanctuary Awards are presented to organisations that go above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary. Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ venues – which include museums, art galleries, Roman forts and a heritage railway – received the accolade following a successful appraisal by a panel of four judges.

Sanctuary Award winners must demonstrate that they have: learned what it means to be seeking sanctuary; taken positive action to include asylum seekers and refugees; and let others know about the positive contribution of people seeking sanctuary and the benefits of a welcoming culture to all.

Clare Smith, Learning and Engagement Manager at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said:

“Museums and galleries are at the heart of the UK’s town and cities. That makes us well placed to celebrate the achievements and contributions of everyone in our communities – including sanctuary seekers.

“We’ll continue to use our Museums of Sanctuary to promote a society that is fairer, more compassionate and more welcoming.”

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ application was appraised by two City of Sanctuary UK representatives and two ambassadors with lived experience of migration and asylum. The panel was particularly impressed by:

  • Multaka North East (a volunteering programme)
  • The organisation’s commitment to staff awareness training, and
  • The role it has played in coordinating community networks and events.

Multaka – which means ‘meeting point’ in Arabic – is a museum volunteering project for people with a migration background. Members of the group have explored different museum collections and gone on to create written exhibition guides and video tours in English, as well as their own first languages.

Yan Tam, Multaka North East volunteer, said:

“I love being part of the group because we can support each other and share advice about daily life in Newcastle. It’s been good to practise speaking English as well.

“We’re learning about the history of Newcastle through art. The Laing and Hatton art galleries are my favourites.”

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums has been working with Newcastle’s West End Refugee Service (WERS) to deliver awareness training for staff. It has also linked up with North East charity Connected Voice to create and deliver bespoke staff training sessions focusing on understanding different cultures.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is a founder-member of the North East Sanctuary and Culture Network, a group set up to develop a collaborative approach to supporting refugees and asylum seekers among the region’s cultural organisations. As part of the network, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums led the coordination of a programme of activity to celebrate Refugee Week 2023 in Newcastle and Gateshead.

Cllr Paula Maines, Cabinet member for a Resilient City at Newcastle City Council, said:

“It is clear that Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums has developed a culture of welcome and inclusion over a number of years and its commitment to this work was obvious to the Sanctuary panel from the application.

“I’d like to say thank you to the staff and volunteers for all the hard work that has gone into this achievement and congratulations on being recognised as Museums of Sanctuary.”

Other designated Sanctuary organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead include Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, Newcastle City Library, Newcastle West End Foodbank and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

Click here to find out more about the award.