People seeking sanctuary are at the heart of City of Sanctuary UK, their voices, views, experiences and participation are central to shaping the work we do. The purpose of the Advisory Group is to provide a mechanism for people seeking sanctuary to inform and influence City of Sanctuary work at an operational level.
Prior to seeking sanctuary in UK, Gaida had a dream of becoming a journalist or doctor, she always wanted to make a difference and help others. Back in her country of origin she did embark on two university degrees and started a career on the national television, and lots of other things besides. She had a good life and lots of friends, she was happy. One day the war came and without warning destroyed everything, dispersed all her family and friends and some were sadly killed. Her and her family were forced to flee, and fortunately she was able to seek sanctuary in the UK. She is now a refugee but is keen to tell her story and advocate on behalf of others who end up in the same situation. She said “Through my journey as a refugee everything changed, I lost my hope, my smile, and somehow, I lost who I am, I was just a number. But when I was resettled to the UK, I had a second chance to rebuild a life. I proudly joined the labour market and got back to university”.
She has volunteered with the Refugee Council and is a Sanctuary in Politics graduate. Her Sanctuary in Politics course project focused on Schools of Sanctuary and involved her speaking at various schools to raise awareness of refugee issues. She says “A human with dignity, that is who I am now”.
Loraine is a migrant’s rights and Anti-Racist campaigner and organiser based in Coventry. She is a member of Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG) which is a group that supports migrants to find their voices in the community. She is keen to advocate on behalf of others but also aims to empower others to do the same. During the pandemic she has done many blogs and spoken to the media about how challenging it is living in the UK asylum seeker. She is a keen advocate for the right to work and wants to raise awareness of the contribution people seeking sanctuary can make to the UK.
Loraine got more involved with City of Sanctuary UK in 2019 when CARAG supported the planning of the national conference in Coventry. She chaired the event with professionalism, passion and humour.
Loraine is originally from Malawi. She has a lovely son and loves fish.
Note: There are currently 12 members of the operational advisory group, please note some members would like to keep their anonymity.