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Registered Charity No; 1176094
AGM meeting; 17th October 2018; 6:30 pm; Friargate Meeting House, York.

1. Welcome and Apologies.
Apologies from: Rose Berl, Ruth Davies, Dianne Cox, Richard Irons, Jane Adams, Issy Sanderson, Ahmed Khaleel, Tina Funnell, Monica Dunham, Kurt Strauss, Susan Buchanan, Judith Smeaton, Bob Smeaton, Nicky Jenkins, Keith Albans, Rob Cooper, Steph Cooper.

2. Present.
Helen Webster, Mike Southgate, Peter Robinson, Michael Worthington, Tricia Miller, Peter Jarman, Paul Wordsworth, Annie Medcalf, Sally Boulton, John Boulton, Felicia McCormick, Selena Whitehead, Richard Long, Edward Webb, Rasha Ibrahim, Maire Doyle, Malak Hashem, Sarah Trewhitt

3. Notes of previous AGM. (Attached)
Approved as read without correction or addition.

4. Annual accounts and report from Treasurer– Questions raised from floor about large financial differences between funding/income for RAY and YCoS.

5. Report from Board of Trustees’ Chair- see attached report

  • Summer drop in– 4 families, 6 volunteers (weekly average), families see it as relaxed and fun. Provide snacks and support people’s English.
  • Theatre Royal – Launched ‘Pay It Forward’ scheme. Go to their website to join in.
  • New ‘Data Protection’ laws – Consent emails sent out to all members. Result: 210 members down to 112; 54 volunteers down to 44; 82 supporters down to 33; 59 organisations in partnership down to 17.
  • ‘Welcome to York’ Programme. Funding from ‘The Guardian’. Free entry to the Yorkshire Museum, Art Gallery and Minster. Volunteers needed: training to be better guides. Refugees from Ripon, Doncaster and Hull are coming to visit York (proposed dates: 3/Nov, 24/Nov, 9/Dec).
  • Shops of Sanctuary– Oxfam, take on refugees and train staff on refugee and asylum issues.
  • Social Media– Moderated public comments (new Facebook page) and sharing information with active volunteers, team leaders, and trustees (old Facebook page). Twitter account to be set up.
  • University of Sanctuary– York St. John celebrate award of status on 1/Nov/2018. Congratulations! We look to expand the network.
  • Compass Project– Leeds, Middlesbrough, Bradford, Wakefield. Too many unnecessary items donated, but volunteer drivers are welcome to help.

Co-ordinator’s Report- see attached document. 

6. Elections to the Board of Trustees

Resignations from York CoS Trustee Board- Annie Medcalf, Tricia Miller and Paul Wordsworth.
Only one nomination received at time of AGM. So, the 2 places will be co-opted by the Board in due course.
Paul Wordsworth stood for re-election; Nominated by Michael Worthington, seconded by Selina Whitehead, and passed unanimously by the meeting.

7. The Road Ahead (Plans for 2018-2019 and beyond)- see attached document.

8. Sarah Trewhitt; Regional Co-ordinator for City of Sanctuary
Sanctuary in Parliament 12/11/18. Organisers are hoping for more support from Yorkshire region. Themes on that day; seeking to enable asylum seekers to access work during waiting to hear about applications to stay in UK; more humane response to family reunion applications;. Expressions of concern that UK is the only European country with unlimited detention of failed asylum seekers.

The Regional meeting takes place on 8/12/18 in Leeds and support from York would be valuable.

9. Any other business– ‘Time to be out’ (managing emotional vulnerabilities in young refugees) training session, 22/Nov, 3 places available.

10. Next meeting of Trustees
To be arranged

Paul Wordsworth – Chair of the Board of Trustees (2017 – 2018)
Office: 01904 426891   Mobile: 07745 380987
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Report from Trustees of York City of Sanctuary Charity; 2018

The Trustees held 5 meetings following the AGM in January 2018. The winding up process and transfer of funds from the City of Sanctuary Voluntary Organisation to the Charity was successfully completed by May of this year. Grateful thanks are due to the Management Group of YCoS from 2012 -2018.

The Board put in place measures to ensure that the Charity is compliant with the changes to Data Protection requirements which came into effect this Summer. The process reduced the number of people and organisations about whom we hold information, and we will hear a short report about this at the AGM.

The Board has paid attention to the Aims of our Charity, as agreed with the Charity Commissioners, and has worked hard to create a strategic plan for our future operations which mirrors those objectives in practical terms. The work is contained in a document which will be presented to the AGM in October 2018.

York City of Sanctuary has been based at Spurriergate since January 2015. It was a pleasant and practical environment in the city centre. Sadly, the Spurriergate Centre went into liquidation (August 2018,) and the building has been sold. We left the premises on October 8th 2018 and look for a new office.

Members of the Board are thanked for their work during this first year. Annie Medcalf steps down from the Board to develop our ‘Welcome to York’ programme. That is an important part of our strategy, and we are grateful for her willing leadership. Tricia Miller is also stepping down as trustee, and continues her valuable role of leadership in dealing with donations of clothes and household goods which are distributed in York and the region.

Grateful thanks are due to our Team leaders who meet regularly during the year. They continue our links with Hull, Middlesbrough, Wakefield and Bradford refugee agencies, and provide tailored educational support to refugees in the city.

A successful Summer time Barbecue was generously hosted by Bootham School, and the Summer Drop in took place at the York Theatre Royal. The Summer Outing was to Lastingham, and a report is included in the AGM papers.

It is good news that York St. John University is to be awarded the status of University of Sanctuary at a ceremony in November, and that York was chosen to help pilot a Shops of Sanctuary programme, which is now up and running.

Volunteers and supporters have given time and energy to support our work, and we thank them for their help which is much appreciated. Donations and grants have come in through the year to enable us to continue our work across a number of fields. That generosity has been a great encouragement to us, as we seek to provide welcome, hospitality, friendship and support to those in need of sanctuary here in York and in the region.

York City of Sanctuary; Co-ordinator’s AGM Report: 2018

As Co-ordinator, I am a member of the York Holocaust Memorial Day planning Group, and on the steering group of York City of Human Rights. It is important to be part of those groups and to make the clear connections. The age of genocide is not over. Basic Human Rights have need of defenders in the UK.

This year has seen the start of the York Refugee Co-ordinating Group. It seeks to do what the title suggests; bring together the various agencies working in the city with asylum seekers and refugees, so that we can share information, concerns, and resources more closely. The group is provided with facilities from the CYC, and includes representatives from Refugee Council, Refugee Action York, and ourselves, to name but three of the agencies and groups involved.

In terms of York City of Sanctuary advocacy there are around 21 active file cases open at any one time. Over the past year I have worked with refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, (those who did not come via the Government’s programme), other parts of the Middle East, from sub-Saharan Africa, and from the Sub-continent of Asia. Over the past year cases have included

  • Finding legal support for asylum seeker applications to the Home Office
  • Assisting refugees to obtain leave to remain in the UK after 5 years stay
  • Helping those who have leave to remain to apply for UK citizenship
  • Supporting those who have been refused asylum to appeal their case
  • Being alongside those applying for housing benefits, child tax credits etc.
  • Helping with grant applications to meet fees for further education.
  • Administering our hardship fund to help refugees in need
  • Assisting refugees into housing and arranging emergency accommodation with our team of hosts. (In 2017 we provided 92 emergency bed nights. In 2018, so far, we have provided 245 emergency bed nights).
  • Linking with our donations organiser to find household items and clothing which are needed by refugee households in York.

YCoS covers the cost of travelling with an asylum seeker to meet an Immigration lawyer in Leeds or Rotherham. The hardship fund is used to enable some refugees to meet the high cost of rented accommodation in York, or to move house, or to help those who are destitute. That is to name but a few examples.

I believe that the work outlined here and in the Chair’s report, assists in making York a place of welcome, hospitality and support to sanctuary seekers who come to our city. We do not subscribe to the creation of a hostile environment in our city or in the UK for those who have fled war, starvation, economic ruin, or oppression. There is a better way, and we invite people to model what that looks like, by offering sincere friendships, and generous hearts, to those who have come as our neighbours, seeking a place of refuge and safety.

Paul Wordsworth 

York City of Sanctuary 2018/19 Draft strategic plan                          V2                                 

What we want to achieve in 2018/19

Aim 1 ( long term goal/ intent)  –To advance the education of the public in general about the issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum

Current picture

There is a lack of information in the public domain on the situation facing refugees and asylums seekers in York and in the UK. The general view is confused and often inaccurate. The experiences of people who are seeking asylum and the reasons for seeking refugee status are often misunderstood. This creates a false narrative about why people need refuge, help and support. Information and data on the backgrounds and numbers of people seeking asylum and settling as refugees in York is patchy and is not held in a single location. This makes both planning support and challenging public perception difficult for all agencies. The public perception of refugees is dominated by the mainstream media which is recent years has provided a largely hostile response to asylum seekers and refugees. A new narrative needs to be developed.

 In 2018/19 we plan to

Objective (short term/ specific goal)
1  Develop a Communications Plan with the following components.
1.a Communicate through public meetings and community talks. Pro- actively seeking platforms.
1.b Communicate through a more effective social media platform – we have launched a new Facebook page which we would  want everyone to like and follow. This will allow us to reach out to a wider audience and encourage a wider public engagement.
1.c Develop a Sanctuary Schools programme to better educate the young people in York.
1.2/ Develop a comprehensive profile of people who are seeking asylum and refugees who have settled in York. This is a shared cross-agency initiative led by CYC and into which YCoS is feeding.

Aim 2  (long term goal/ intent)  -To assist people seeking asylum and those granted refugee status in adjusting to and settling into life in the UK

Current picture

YCOS recognises the need to develop a Sanctuary Programme which includes the provision of basic needs through to enabling refugees to gain employment and educational opportunities. There is limited help in understanding UK culture systems, cultural norms and customs and the civil and legal systems needed to gain refugee status. There is also limited support for understanding rights and benefits as an asylum seeker and refugee. Some people need hand on support and advocacy to help them navigate UK civil and legal systems. YCOS currently helps some people survive when there is no other support available. Those who have come to York via the Govt. Vulnerable Syrian Programme are currently better provided for than other refugees in the city.

Objective (short term/ specific goal)
2/ To develop a Sanctuary Programme
2.1 Provision of basic essentials for people in need including accommodation and basic items.
2.2 Provide  orientation sessions
2.3 Information Website
2.4 Befriending and advocacy service
2.5 Employment/work experience support. To include:

·         Develop an Asylum seeker and refugee mentoring scheme.

·         Develop a work experience and business mentoring scheme.

·         Develop shops of sanctuary scheme – we currently have two Syrian volunteers who have started placements as part of the Oxfam/Shops of Sanctuary scheme. RAY are helping us find a third person.

2.6 Educational support for young people:

One to one mentoring for children in secondary schools

2.7 The York City of Sanctuary Compass programme seeks to address with practical support, our assistance of those seeking asylum and those granted refugee status in adjusting to and settling into this region of the UK. It fulfils a core aim, as agreed with the Charity Commissioners, and forms a natural link with our Welcome to York Programme (Aim 3).

Aim  3 (long term goal/ intent)  – The promotion of equality and diversity for the public benefit by promoting activities that foster understanding between peoples from diverse backgrounds

Current picture

Dispel myths that different unconnected communities may hold about each other.

Objective (short term/ specific goal)
Welcome to York Programme to support visits to York of asylum seekers and refugees from other regional towns with our local volunteer hosts and guides to the city.

Create an annual calendar of community activities that bring together  refugees and local communities in a social setting

Summer Drop In to provide conversation,  advocacy services,  and social activities for York refugees and asylum seekers in a relaxed, informal, open setting staffed by YCoS volunteers. Theatre Royal has been venue in 2017/2018 


Strategic Goals

Objective (short term/ specific goal)
To work with other refugee agencies in and around York to create a cohesive and integrated structure of support for asylum seekers and refugees in the city.
To continue developing a partnership with other local,  regional and national  refugee agencies  in upholding the City of York as a place of welcome for asylum seekers and refugees coming from diverse backgrounds.