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Sanctuary Awards

We all have a part to play in building a more welcoming, inclusive and compassionate society. To celebrate the organisations who go above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary, we have our Sanctuary Award programme.

Any community group, private organisation, public sector service or other bodies which contribute towards the vision of welcome can apply for the award. Appraised by a panel including someone with lived experience of seeking sanctuary and an expert in the field, this formal awards process recognises and rewards good practice and progress within a sector, whilst encouraging other organisations to do the same. All sanctuary awards are valid for three years after which point an institution will need to undergo a re-accreditation process.

For all awards, applicants must demonstrate that they have done the following:

  • Learn: find out what it means to be seeking sanctuary; and be actively involved in awareness raising.
  • Embed: take positive action to make welcome and inclusion part of the values of your organisation or community, to support people who are seeking asylum and people who are refugees, and to include them in your activities.
  • Share your vision and achievements: let others know about the positive contribution of people seeking sanctuary make to our society and the benefits of a welcoming culture to everyone.

The process is underpinned by our values and broader principles, as outlined in the City of Sanctuary Charter.

Sanctuary Awards have been developed in conjunction with schools, universities, arts organisations and others.

Read the other pages in this section for more information or contact us

This video (from online training on 19/01/21) outlines the award process.

The Awards Process Guidance for Applicants

The Application

Step 1Contact your local group or a national officer if there is not a local group near you. They will be able to discuss your application and answer any questions you might have.

Step 2Pledge your commitment to work towards the values and principles of the City of Sanctuary charter by signing up as a Supporting Organisation. We also encourage you to sign up to the monthly national newsletter

Step 3Produce a plan (with support of local group) using the process of LEARN, EMBED, SHARE.
Include how you plan to incorporate the CoS network principles (where applicable) within the organisation and what can be appropriately embedded within your context. Some Streams of Sanctuary have audit assessment tools to help your planning ( eg Schools of Sanctuary)

Step 4 Submit a written application for an award using the Sanctuary Awards Application form. Please forward the application to your nearest CoS local group or the relevant Regional Coordinator. Where there is no local group or local streams lead City of Sanctuary UK will be responsible for the award process (please note that because of capacity there are application deadlines).

NOTE: There are minimum criteria for all applications. Some streams have specific minimum criteria and guidelines which can be found in the following resource packs:

If you would like to order a copy of the relevant resource pack, please use this order form.

For all other applicants, please use this set of Sanctuary Awards Generic Minimum Criteria.

As well as the minimum criteria, your application should include the following:

  • Evidence demonstrating how your organisation has used the three step process of learn, embed and share and how through following the process the values and principles in the charter are being upheld.
  • Evidence collected in a variety of ways which can include self-evaluation, photos and testimony, strategic plans, training records, policies and procedures and through consulting with sanctuary seekers.
  • Applications should be no longer than 4 pages, including supporting evidence. Only photos or organisational documents can be submitted in addition to these 4 pages.
  • Please be aware that City of Sanctuary may use any information you supply to share best practice or for publicity / presentations. If you include quotes / photographs, please confirm that this is acceptable to persons concerned (we’ll check with you if photo permissions are not made clear).

The Appraisal

Step 5 – Your application will be appraised by a panel which could include a local member of City of Sanctuary, or local stream lead, (or a City of Sanctuary UK staff member), someone with lived experience of seeking sanctuary and an expert in the field (where possible). Where there is no local group/lead a staff member of City of Sanctuary UK will be able to support (please note if there is no local group there will be award application deadlines). The panel may request a visit as part of the appraisal, and will usually require a conversation between key members of staff, users of the organisation and the panel.

Step 6 – Once the award is agreed, plans can be made for its presentation which might include a celebratory event/ media statements etc. You are making a public declaration of support for people seeking sanctuary and City of Sanctuary.

Step 7 –The conversations begun during appraisal will continue between the local group/stream/City of Sanctuary UK and the organisation and inform a review every three years, when an updated certificate of recognition can be issued.

Application forms

Please complete the Sanctuary Awards Application Form  which can be printed out or downloaded and sent to your local City of Sanctuary group or regional coordinator (see The Awards Process for Applicants).

Feedback form

This feedback form will be used by your appraisal group to provide feedback on your application.

Certificate template and Logos

These can be found here

Case studies

We welcome case studies to use as guidance and inspiration for others around the UK applying for Sanctuary Awards. Case studies can be found on our streams resouces pages.  If you would like to submit a case study, please use this form.

Streams of Sanctuary

We are gradually developing specific resources and websites for the increasing number of Streams of Sanctuary initiatives. Use the following links to access the relevant websites.

Resources for the following streams are in development. Please contact us: [email protected] if you need more information.