City of Sanctuary holds the vision that our nations will be  welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.

City of Sanctuary began in October 2005 in Sheffield. In September 2007, with the support of the City Council and over 70 local community organisations, Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’ – a city that takes pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety.

Since then, City of Sanctuary UK, the umbrella organisation, has supported the development of a network of groups, which includes villages, towns, cities and regions across the UK, and others engaged in Streams of Sanctuary, Sanctuary Awards and activities intended to welcome people seeking sanctuary.

Whilst we are a movement in our own right City of Sanctuary also contributes towards wider movement building through partnership work and supporting advocacy and campaigning initiatives. City of Sanctuary UK enjoys close partnerships with all the major refugee organisations and we are committed to working with them to build a united voice to advocate for people seeking sanctuary in our nations and worldwide.

Our Charter

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:-


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 within the network and in partnership with others.


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.


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.

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
  • 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.

  • To support the creation of a culture of welcome and inclusion across every sphere and sector of society to ensure that wherever sanctuary seekers go they will find places of safety
  • To promote the voices and celebrate the contributions of people seeking sanctuary across every sphere and sector of society
  • To increase understanding of why people seek sanctuary and the difficulties they experience whilst living in the UK
  • To express the collective voice of the network, advocating for and alongside sanctuary seekers


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