City by city, community by community, we’re building a more welcoming UK for people forced to flee their homes.
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.
City of Sanctuary UK coordinates, supports and grows these networks of welcome. From community groups to schools and universities, local councils to libraries and theatres, we work with individuals, groups and organisations in every area and in every sector to encourage inclusivity, solidarity and compassion for people from a forced displacement background.
From coordination, collaboration, practical training and opportunities for people with lived experience of the asylum system, to vital resources and unmissable webinars, we do all we can to support and grow these networks of welcome.
Our Sanctuary Awards recognise and celebrate the organisations who go above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary.
Inderjit Singh Bhogal founded City of Sanctuary UK, alongside Craig Barnett, in Sheffield in 2005. Two years later, with the support of the council and over 70 local community organisations, the city became the UK’s first ever City of Sanctuary. Since then, hundreds of local councils, schools, universities, libraries, theatres and more have been awarded with Sanctuary status, pledging to create a culture of solidarity, inclusivity and welcome.
For our full history, see A Hundred Thousand Welcomes, the story of City of Sanctuary.
The organisation and network are committed to the following values:
We welcome and respect people from all backgrounds, place the highest value on diversity and are committed to equality.
We are committed to a culture of working collaboratively across the City of Sanctuary networks and in partnership with others.
We work with people seeking sanctuary and value and recognise the contribution of all. We aspire to ensure people seeking sanctuary are involved in all decision making at all levels and are supported to become leaders in the organisation, networks, and the wider movement.
We work with enthusiasm and positivity and are determined to surpass what has already been achieved to welcome refugees and people seeking sanctuary. We act as a catalyst for change by being open to new and innovative ideas and through sharing knowledge gained with others and working in partnership.
We aspire to high standards of honesty and behaviour, and always to act in the interests of people seeking sanctuary.
City of Sanctuary UK is the umbrella organisation, its mission is to provide coordination and development support for networks of community groups supporting people seeking sanctuary, local authorities, Sanctuary Ambassadors, mainstream organisations engaged in Streams of Sanctuary and Sanctuary Awards programmes that are working towards our vision.
In addition we facilitate events, activities and initiatives in partnership at a UK level, ensure good communication and the sharing of best practice across the City of Sanctuary networks, and work to raise the profile of City of Sanctuary overall.
Our networks include community groups, local authorities, Sanctuary Ambassadors and Streams of Sanctuary networks e.g. Universities of Sanctuary. These networks are working towards our vision and values and are committed to embedding the City of Sanctuary network principles but also have the flexibility to develop responses to the challenges within their specific context.
Whilst the networks have the flexibility to determine how best to work towards the vision, the following principles apply to all who are committed to working towards the City of Sanctuary vision:-
1. Create opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between people living in receiving communities and people seeking sanctuary;
2. Communicate a positive vision of welcome by promoting the counter-narrative to negative rhetoric and celebrating the contribution of people seeking sanctuary;
3. Work with people seeking sanctuary, ensuring that they are not just active participants but are empowered to be part of decision making processes at all levels and in all activities;
4. Promote understanding of asylum and refugee issues, especially by enabling the voices of people seeking to be heard directly; 5. When possible (if your context allows) mobilise support for campaigns which aim to make a difference to the lives of people seeking sanctuary;
6. Facilitate partnership working and network development across places of sanctuary and support collaboration on common cause issues.