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We are delighted that you are thinking about becoming a group that will work towards making your city, town, borough, village or region  a welcoming place of safety for all. Our network has grown to over 110 groups  throughout the UK, since it began in Sheffield in 2005. It now represents a comprehensive and wide ranging commitment to welcome refugees.

City of Sanctuary groups go beyond what they themselves can do to help people seeking sanctuary. They act as a rallying cry to other organisations and individuals in an area to offer sanctuary and welcome. A group does not have to take on a specific structure and there are lots of different ways to set up a group. Some groups have paid workers and a formal budget, whereas others are entirely voluntary. There are rich and varied resources on our website to give you ideas.

All City of Sanctuary groups are expected to sign up as a network member. This commits them to the networks values and principles as set out in the City of Sanctuary charter, and to working towards our Theory of Change. The City of Sanctuary Charter provides groups with guidance and information to work towards our vision and enables the flexibility necessary for a grassroots movement to flourish.

What are the first steps prior to setting up a City of Sanctuary Group?

  • Familiarise yourself with the Charter and Theory of Change.
  • Check if there’s a local group in a village, town, city or area near you. You can do that here – Local groups. There can be only one group per area so you may wish to join an existing group. Alternatively you may want to be in contact with another group to find out how they do things.
  • Contact the Coordinator for your area here to discuss setting up your group.
  • Your Coordinator will then support you to do your research in order to:-

1. Find out about your local context, are people seeking sanctuary living in the area? e.g. have asylum seekers been ‘dispersed’ to live in asylum accommodation in your area, have families been resettled there?

2. What other refugee supporting/community organisations are in your area and what do they do? It is important to engage with others; invite them to share their experience and get involved.

3. What is needed to promote welcome in your particular area? Look at our Group Activities pages to get some ideas about what your group could do.

Think about whether the group should prioritise efforts to embed welcome in mainstream organisations through Streams of Sanctuary initiatives, or is there a desperate need to fill a gap in support services?

4. However in considering all of the above be mindful of what you would like to do as individuals and what you can offer in order to make a difference.

  • Engage the wider community and refugee supporting organisations by hosting a meeting to bring people together to talk about the needs and how to address them. It may be useful to include an awareness raising talk on the asylum process which also explains the local context. Ensure that the views of people with lived experience are heard and that they are offered opportunities to become leaders within the group.
  • Identify at least five people to become part of an organising committee.
  • Coordinators can provide support and advice – Contact us

Register your details below to confirm your commitment to working towards our vision in a way which aligns with our values and network principles.

What are the benefits of registering your group?

Register your group

As a newly registered City of Sanctuary group, we agree to:-

  • Work towards realising the City of Sanctuary vision across a specific place/area* (which could be a City, Town, Borough or village)
  • Incorporate the network principles and values in our work (as outlined in the City of Sanctuary Charter).
  • Incorporate the City of Sanctuary Theory of Change, specifically through connecting people seeking sanctuary with other people living in the local community.
  • Go beyond what we can do to help people seeking sanctuary and seek to act as a rallying cry to other organisations and individuals to offer welcome.
  • Be inclusive in generating a culture of welcome, involving different sectors such as education,  local government, health, sports and arts, as well as refugee organisations.
  • Work as an alliance between local people and people seeking sanctuary to run the group wherever possible and appropriate (a group does not need to take on a specific structure and there lots of different ways a group can function effectively and successfully).
  • Be prepared to share successes, ideas and learning with other groups and the network (including joining in regional/national events).
  • Avoid bringing the name of City of Sanctuary into disrepute and to abide by the City of Sanctuary values in all that you do.
  • Ensure that you have an appointed safeguarding lead (their details must be clearly displayed on your website) and safeguarding policy and procedures appropriate to your context (see resources page for more information).
  • Complete an annual membership form updating all details and identify between three and five contacts to enable the City of Sanctuary UK to keep in touch (and to keep the team updated when changes to these contact details occur, providing full name, telephone and email  details for each contact where possible).
  • Complete an Annual Survey to update City of Sanctuary UK on activities and services.
  • Abide by the City of Sanctuary website agreement

In registering your details below, you have accepted to work towards our vision in a way which aligns with our values and network principles. You have also agreed to commit to the first stage in the process of becoming a group and the list of actions above.

*There can be only one group in a specific geographical area and groups should not be working on a single issue but be working towards our wider vision of welcome. 

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What’s next? – Becoming a City of Sanctuary

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, but all groups should work towards undertaking the actions outlined in ‘Becoming a City of Sanctuary.’ 

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

These actions will help you on your journey towards making your City, Town, Village, region or communities a welcoming place of safety.