City by city, community by community, we’re building a more welcoming UK for people forced to flee their homes.
Despite hostility and division pushed by politicians and the press, thousands of ordinary people around the country are stepping up to support people seeking sanctuary in our communities.
City of Sanctuary UK coordinates, supports and grows this network of welcome. From community groups to schools and universities, local councils to libraries and theatres, we work with individuals, groups and organisations in every area and in every sector to encourage inclusivity, compassion and solidarity.
From coordination, collaboration, practical training and opportunities for people with lived experience of the asylum system, to vital resources and unmissable webinars, we do all we can to support and grow these networks of welcome.
City of Sanctuary UK has been engaged with two specific projects; ‘#SanctuaryStoriesOnline‘ and ‘Connect and Create’.
Collaborative film-making during lockdown
While life under lockdown continues to prevent us from meeting, inspiring stories of groups responding in creative ways across the network are springing up. From organising local food parcel deliveries, to using Zoom to host reading groups and birthday parties, to English/Conversation WhatsApp groups the movement is connecting in new ways to support those seeking sanctuary.
This time is also a perfect opportunity for us all to learn how to communicate our network principles more effectively online. These include offering a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all as well as creating opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary, to name just two (see here for the full list).
Towards this, we have set up a collaborative film-making initiative called #SanctuaryStoriesOnline to share our stories and communicate our network principles with the wider movement and beyond.
#SanctuaryStoriesOnline is a collaborative film-making initiative with the aim of sharing local stories to keep the network connected, as well as inspire others to get involved with the sanctuary movement. The project is participatory in nature, giving those who take part in City of Sanctuary an opportunity to develop the necessary skills to communicate their story through film. Towards this, two films have been collaboratively produced to express City of Sanctuary’s network principles, which include offering a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all as well as creating opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary.
To date three training sessions have taken place, engaging ~30 people seeking sanctuary in basic filmmaking techniques. These have taken place over Zoom and engaged people from the North West (Blackburn and Darwin, and Greater Manchester), the North East (Darlington and Newcastle) as well as the South West (Swansea, Cardiff and Wrexham).
The first film ‘What have we learnt from lockdown’ is currently being edited and City of Sanctuary are in the process of training individuals in everyday filmmaking towards a second film with the title ‘How does City of Sanctuary create a culture of welcome across the UK’.
City of Sanctuary has also created a summer activity series called ‘Connect & Create’ working with Displace Yourself Theatre and Citizen Songwriters that includes a whole series of different activities online from taster theatre activities, to beginner songwriting sessions, to a film club, to ‘rest and relax’ meditation sessions, to fun and quiz Friday afternoons.
Connect & Create is all about building connections with others and celebrating what is important about being part of a community of sanctuary, exploring: how can we can continue to feel close to each other? How can we harness the power of collective ideas? How in these difficult times can we find ways to celebrate the human contact that is at the centre of us feeling open-hearted, empowered and alive?
Connect & Create expect to bring together 30 – 40 participants across the 5 activities that will take place each day from Monday 17th August for 6 weeks (finishing on Friday 25th September 2020) and are intended for those within the City of Sanctuary network, especially those who are seeking sanctuary in the UK.
In addition, Funday Friday – a weekly drop in session for anyone in the network to drop in, have a chat, and catch up at the end of the weekly – has been taking place since the beginning of lockdown at the end of March. This is attended by 4 – 8 each week.