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First, please read the section on ‘How to set up a group’

There is no single formula for working towards becoming a City of Sanctuary*, or indeed for developing a successful and effective City of Sanctuary local group. Local circumstances vary and solutions which work in one area may not be appropriate or feasible in another. Numbers of asylum seekers and refugees vary hugely from one location to another. While progress on developing a culture of welcome can only be achieved by City of Sanctuary working with and through local groups and organisations, each local area is faced with a different mix and has to adapt accordingly.

*We use the term ‘City of Sanctuary’ but recognise it also includes, towns, boroughs, villages, region and communities.


In general terms when working towards building a City of Sanctuary, a group should work towards undertaking the following actions:-

  1. Develop a strategy, agreed by the main supporting organisations, for how the city, town or area is to continue working towards greater inclusion and equality for refugees and people seeking sanctuary, as well as greater public awareness, through a range of initiatives, projects and activities. Examples could include:-
  • Workshops or talks for schools on sanctuary issues
  • Engagement with further and higher education
  • A comprehensive commitment to awareness raising
  • Drop-in sessions and welcoming activities for people seeking sanctuary
  • Social and cultural events where people seeking sanctuary and local people interact
  • Business links to help refugees find work placements and mentoring
  • Opportunities for English tuition
  • Faith-based events promoting sanctuary and hospitality
  • Community conflict resolution services for areas experiencing tension over new arrivals
  • Work with local media to publicise positive stories about sanctuary seekers
  • Refugee community involvement in festivals and cultural events
  • Programme of events and activities for Refugee Week
  • Programmes for employment training and voluntary work.
  • Helping create local networks for groups representing and working with sanctuary seekers.
  • Getting involved in campaigning and advocacy
  • Regular reviews which seek the views and suggestions of people seeking sanctuary and refugees.
  1. Gather pledges/resolutions of support from a significant and representative proportion of groups and organisations;
  2. Encourage supporting organisations (whether formally pledged or not) to turn their commitment into actions;
  3. Engage with other groups across the network, in the expectation that such a conversation will lead to a mutually beneficial sharing of good practice;
  4. Support and work alongside refugees and people seeking sanctuary in the City of Sanctuary group, including representation on its steering group or committee;
  5. Wherever possible sustain engagement with the local authority or other relevant authorities.

Any new group which wishes to operate under the title City of Sanctuary needs to show that it is working towards these action points and is committed to activities similar to those in the list above, possibly through or in conjunction with other local groups and organisations. However whilst all groups should use the Charter, and the guidelines outlined above, which activities to concentrate on within a local strategy, are matters of local choice, with regard to local circumstances and sensibilities, availability of resources, etc.

Many local groups are enthused by the idea of becoming a City of Sanctuary, and work towards this goal as a step on the way to realizing our vision in their city. We expect groups to set their own targets and criteria and no longer have a national recognition process. Groups are encouraged to celebrate achievements at various points during their journey towards becoming a City of Sanctuary, for example once they have made significant progress towards achieving the above actions. Many groups planning celebrations have used the wording ‘X City of Sanctuary: Building a welcoming place of sanctuary’.

If  wanted, a team member, will be available to lend a hand with the process, following the guidelines above. Beyond publishing our Charter, and offering resources , the City of Sanctuary team will play a role only if requested to do so.

Local Authorities are able to apply to City of Sanctuary UK to become a member of the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network and gain recognition for their work, find further information here.