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Welcome to the February 2017 Newsletter

Please forward this onto your supporters and networks.

 2017 looks like it will be as challenging as last year. Now more than ever, we need to stand together in solidarity and use our networks to keep welcome and sanctuary high on the agenda as the global crisis deepens.  In this newsletter we share links to our solidarity messages sent to America, provide a snapshot of some groups’ activities across the network and inform you of a funding opportunity, a regional event, resources and a job opportunity. 

Please share your stories, ideas and resources with us to strengthen the sanctuary network.

News from around the network

We send messages of solidarity to Sanctuary Cities and Welcoming America!

City of Sanctuary has expressed our solidarity with Sanctuary Cities and Welcoming America in the USA after the shocking travel ban which is affecting refugees who expected to find sanctuary in the US.  “Whilst City of Sanctuary UK and Ireland is not officially affiliated to Sanctuary Cities in US and Canada, nor to Welcoming America, we wish to publicly state that we share their values of providing welcome, safety and sanctuary and we have sent personal messages to them as a show of solidarity”.  Please see the front page of our website for our full statement of solidarity, which we encourage all places of sanctuary to support. Universities of Sanctuary have sent a statement of solidarity to sanctuary campuses across the US and City of Sanctuary Sheffield have also sent their own message. In Belfast, a Somali refugee reminds the US Consulate at a vigil that every human being has a right to sanctuary under international law.


ESOL Forum in Birmingham

Birmingham City of Sanctuary recently brought together over 50 ESOL volunteer tutors working with asylum seekers and refugees to share best practice, learn and plan together to bring English to more refugees. They also premiered the new film resource ESOL Matters which we hope everyone will use to promote the Let Refugees Learn campaign. look out for full details on the website. 

A Day in the Life of a CoS Volunteer

Please check out this link to a short blog post from Loughborough Town of Sanctuary about one day outside the East Midlands Reporting Centre including meeting an unaccompanied minor straight from a lorry and how the stress of the process to gain official status can lead to extreme responses. 

New Sanctuary in Politics courses in Ireland

Sanctuary in Politics was a groundbreaking course over 5 Saturday mornings where 50 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants were trained in understanding the Irish political system, working with the media, public speaking skills and becoming an effective voice for their community. The successful courses are being repeated and Waterford will be pioneering Sanctuary in Governance, an initiative of the graduates from last year’s Sanctuary in Politics and many other groups will be watching with interest as this is addressing a big need in many of our communities. See here for more information  Anyone interested in finding out more please contact Tiffy on [email protected]

Campaigns – and actions

High Court rules against detention

UK’s ‘detained fast track’ process used for asylum appeals from 2005-14 has been ruled unlawful and beyond the power of the Home Office.  For more information see the Guardian article or visit the Detention Forum website for a wider understanding of detention issues. You can also ask us to arrange for the Forum to provide you with workshops or training in your city. You can take action now to end indefinite detention by writing to your MP asking him/her urgently to call for the Immigration Minister to introduce a time limit on detention. You can find all the information you need to write to your MP here.

Home Office collects data from statutory services

There is increasing concern that the Home Office can access key data via the health service  and schools in England to enforce immigration law which could lead to barriers in accessing education and health care for vulnerable migrants.

Confidentiality Policy Reminder

 Sadly we feel the need to remind the network not to publish full names of refugees on the website without informed consent. It is not always easy to remove the footprint of a document published on the internet  and sometimes (even positive) information can go back to the country of origin and adversely affect families. 

Events and Opportunities

Learning and Working Together Day for CoS in Central England

Booking information is here for the March 3rd event in Derby to bring groups across the region with partners to share best practice and learn together in workshops provided by Amnesty, Hope not Hate and local groups including using Sanctuary awards to strategically engage, celebrate and sustain welcome.  

Common Good Fund

We think that this new funding opportunity from the Urban Church Fund with a deadline of 27th February may be of interest to many groups in England who can’t access the Near Neighbours small grant. There is funding to bring people together to create a common agenda and promote alternatives to hate, intolerance and prejudice. 

Job opportunities

Accommodation Development Worker in Swansea working with destitute asylum seekers (Deadline 10th Feb) 

New Resources

“ESOL Matters” film to promote #LetRefugeesLearn

Please help us spread this 3 minute video made by Birmingham City of Sanctuary about why ESOL matters and help promote the Let Refugees Learn campaign.  It is a useful awareness resource and can be used with groups, MPs, councils, FE colleges etc. See also the ESOL webpage for resources to support volunteer tutors. 

If you have any printer ink cartridges or old mobile phones, you can request a freepost envelope or box here to send them in for recycling and a donation will be made to City of Sanctuary!


Home Affairs Select Committee Report on Asylum Accommodation

The report published two weeks ago contains useful stats on numbers of asylum seekers accommodated across the country and also describes accommodation for asylum seekers as “substandard, poorly maintained and . . . unsafe”. An instructive and informative read for those who haven’t seen the conditions of housing under the COMPASS contracts. 

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