First, please read the section on ‘How to set up a group’
There is no single formula 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.
Guidelines to becoming a City of Sanctuary
In general terms groups should work towards undertaking the following actions:-
- 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
- Other awareness raising events or activities
- Drop-in sessions for people seeking sanctuary
- Social and cultural events where people seeking sanctuary and local people interact
- Musical and drama activities which include refugees
- Opportunities for English tuition
- Interfaith 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
- Positive programmes for new arrivals
- Refugee community involvement in festivals and cultural events
- Programme of events and activities for Refugee Week
- Programmes for employment training and voluntary work.
- Contributing towards building local networks amongst groups and agencies representing and working with sanctuary seekers.
- Getting involved in campaigning and advocacy initiatives
- A commitment to self-evaluation through a regular review process which seeks as far as possible the views and suggestions of people seeking sanctuary and refugees.
- Gather resolutions of support from a significant and representative proportion of groups and organisations;
- Encourage supporting organisations (whether formally pledged or not) to turn their commitment into actions;
- Engage with other groups across the network, in the expectation that such a conversation will lead to a mutually beneficial sharing of good practice;
- Support and work alongside refugees and people seeking sanctuary in the City of Sanctuary group, including representation on its steering group or committee;
- 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 to be met before that aim is achieved. We also continue to hope that local councils will not declare their city to be a ‘City of Sanctuary’ without local grassroots support.
However, it is up to those involved locally in each city as to how they want to manage the process and to decide when and how to call their city a ‘City of Sanctuary’. Beyond publishing our Charter, and offering resources such as certificates, the City of Sanctuary team will play a role only if requested to do so.
If wanted, a team member, will be available to lend a hand with the process, following the guidelines above.
Groups may, if they wish, apply to City of Sanctuary UK/Places of Sanctuary Ireland for sanctuary recognition for their City, Town, Village by submitting an application for appraisal.
We hope this proposal will recognise more clearly that the big work is always done within each city, with the regional and national teams being available to support, encourage, network and guide when needed.