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City by city, community by community, we’re building a more welcoming UK for people forced to flee their homes.



We support a vibrant network, from community groups to councils, schools to libraries, all working to provide support, dignity and welcome to people seeking sanctuary.



From practical training and vital resources to unmissable webinars and collaboration opportunities, we do all we can to support and grow this network of welcome. 





Our Sanctuary Awards recognise and celebrate the organisations who go above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary.

We started 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 authorities, schools, universities, libraries, theatres and more have been awarded with Sanctuary status, pledging to create a culture of solidarity, inclusivity and welcome.

 

About Us

We hold the vision that the UK will be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer
sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

The organisation and network will be guided and informed by commitment to the following values:-

Inclusiveness 

We welcome and respect people from all backgrounds, place the highest value on diversity and are committed to equality.

Openness

We are committed to a culture of working collaboratively within the network and in partnership with others.

Participation

Those who support our vision work together with people seeking sanctuary. We value and recognise the contribution of all involved. We aspire to ensure people seeking sanctuary are fully involved in decision making processes and supported to become leaders within the City of Sanctuary organisation and network as well as within the wider movement.

Inspiring

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.

Integrity

We aspire to high standards of honesty and behaviour, and always to act in the interests of people seeking sanctuary.

A movement is a loose collection of independent groups and individuals united by a common purpose but with no one leader.

City of Sanctuary contributes to building an ever broader social movement to ensure that all people seeking sanctuary within the UK are made welcome in our countries and that the aspirations of the Birmingham Declaration become a reality.

The Birmingham Declaration was launched at the first Sanctuary Summit in 2014 and has since been endorsed by more than 320 organisations. The core principles in the Declaration are:
1. All asylum seekers, refugees and migrants should be treated with dignity and respect.
2. A fair and effective process to decide whether people need protection should be in place.
3. No one should be locked up indefinitely.
4. No one should be left sick or destitute in our society.
5. We should welcome the stranger and help them to integrate.

City of Sanctuary UK is an organisation that provides a focus for coordination and development of the network. This contributes to building a wider sanctuary movement.

In addition to undertaking City of Sanctuary activities and initiatives at a UK level, the role of the organisation is to ensure that there is good communication across the network, to coordinate decision-making and to help raise the profile of City of Sanctuary overall.

Our network includes groups, and others engaged in Streams of Sanctuary work, that are focused on bringing about both local and national social change. Groups, and others engaged in streams of sanctuary work who are aligned with the network
principles, have flexibility to develop local, regional and national responses to local, regional and national challenges (e.g. developing Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary).

Together such networks affirm and achieve our overarching vision.

The City of Sanctuary network is part of a mainstream, grassroots movement working towards achieving the overall vision. Whilst there is flexibility in determining how best to work towards the vision, the following principles apply to all groups, networks and streams operating under the name of City of Sanctuary:-

  • Offer a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all;
  • Create opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary;
  • Recognise and encourage partnership working and network development across localities;
  • Identify opportunities for practical action and work on common cause issues to effect change within and across communities (turning empathy into action);
  • Celebrate and promote the welcome and contribution of people seeking sanctuary;
  • Engage people seeking sanctuary in decision making processes at all levels and in all
    activities;
  • Promote understanding of asylum and refugee issues, especially by enabling refugee voices to be heard directly.

The City of Sanctuary network is part of a mainstream, grassroots movement working towards achieving the overall vision. Whilst there is flexibility in determining how best to work towards the vision, the following principles apply to all groups, networks and streams operating under the name of City of Sanctuary:-

  • Offer a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all;
  • Create opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary;
  • Recognise and encourage partnership working and network development across localities;
  • Identify opportunities for practical action and work on common cause issues to effect change within and across communities (turning empathy into action);
  • Celebrate and promote the welcome and contribution of people seeking sanctuary;
  • Engage people seeking sanctuary in decision making processes at all levels and in all
    activities;
  • Promote understanding of asylum and refugee issues, especially by enabling refugee voices to be heard directly.

City of Sanctuary UK’s mission is to support the network of groups and Streams of Sanctuary and to contribute towards building a sanctuary movement. In practical terms, we work to build a culture of welcome, hospitality and inclusiveness right across every sphere and sector of society, so that wherever people seeking sanctuary go they will feel safe, find people who welcome them and understand why they are here, and have opportunities to be included in all activities.

  • Strategic Objective 1: Provide network coordination and support to CoS groups in order to increase the number of groups, bring about an expansion in the activities undertaken and improve the engagement and participation of people seeking sanctuary 
  • Strategic Objective 2: Facilitate communications across the network to share information (internal communications), promote a positive message of welcome for people seeking sanctuary and enable the voices of people seeking sanctuary to be heard directly (external communications);
  • Strategic Objective 3: Develop and promote Streams of Sanctuary and awards work in order to embed the message of welcome within mainstream spheres of society and ensure that people seeking sanctuary are engaged and can participate in streams and awards initiatives;
  • Strategic Objective 4: Contribute to movement building through building partnerships, ensuring people seeking sanctuary participation and supporting advocacy and campaigning initiatives to ensure people seeking sanctuary are welcome and the aspirations of the Birmingham Declaration are realised.