Minutes of ARSN group meeting 09.05.16

Minutes of meeting held on Monday 9th May 2016 at the
Quaker Meeting House in Ashburton

Inga chaired the meeting and welcomed Yaara, Alexine, Pip, Judy GJ and Hilary.

Apologies were received from: Sarah Hopkins, Judy Marshall, Jenny Donaldson, Lucy Lepchani and Nigel Ward.

1. Matters arising:
i) Anna Dunscombe has volunteered to design and produce a LOGO for us.
ii) R.A.F.T Alexine has a ‘boot-load’ which she will deliver to Taunton this week and Jude Cranmer has volunteered to cover a shift for the Newton Crisis Aid at the Racecourse.

2. Modern Day Slavery:
Pip has yet to liaise with Ruth but will do so.
(This to be kept on the agenda for the next meeting)

3. South Devon Refugee Support Network:
Yaara provided an update on the meeting which she attended on the 19.04.16 and
she has a copy of the minutes if anyone would like to read them.

To précis –
i) The Dartington projects are ongoing and the relevant information
can be found on their web-site.
ii) Ashburton will devise and present the ‘Myth Busting’ gig on 20.05.16 as part of the Open Arms Festival.
iii) Saif is working on holding a ‘residential’ for refugees.
iv) The next SDRSN meeting is on Tuesday 24th May and Yaara & Inga will attend.

4. Open Arms Festival – catering for ‘Visible Ink’ Changing Places event 13.05.16:
i) JGJ reported on the list of contributors so far to the ‘Visible Ink’ event at St John’s church, Totnes.
ii) The menu, tasks and logistics were defined and accepted.
iii) There followed a short discussion on the form/presentation of our contribution to the ‘Myth Busting’ event on May 20th. Pip and Yaara to finalise.

5. About Time:
i) Inga and JGJ reported on their visit to Plymouth where they met Marlene Schuster who runs a drop-in centre once a week in Stoke Damerel Community Centre.
ii) Whilst they were able to help with cooking and serving lunch there were almost as many helpers as migrants. There appeared to be no way of knowing how many people would turn up each week and JGJ felt it was a long way to go t0 assist in this ad hoc way. Inga said that whilst there seem to be no refugees/ asylum seekers on this particular day, the people attending indeed felt isolated for various reasons.
iii) Marlene is keen to offer English lessons and indeed to increase the scope of the project both in terms of activities offered and their frequency.
iv) Inga was surprised at the paucity of attendees.
v) Inga and Jude left contact details should help be needed in the future.

(A discussion followed on what skills should be offered to women in particular- practical skills rather than sexist options?)

6. Syria Hope Society: – nothing to report at this time.

7. New Website: Yaara reported that Richard Gonski is in the process of building the new website. The process is ongoing.

8. Unaccompanied child refugees:
– We discussed the governments U TURN on such refugees and Yaara will put a link on our FB page to ‘Citizens UK’ which had launched a campaign to encourage families who are contemplating fostering to embark on the process early by contacting the appropriate agencies.
– Jude is to write a letter to the DCC asking where they stand on using their current fostering system to incorporate placing unaccompanied child refugees.

9. Date of the next meeting: MONDAY 6TH JUNE @ the Quaker Meeting House

10. Action following the meeting:
i) Anna to continue with LOGO design (item 1 above)
ii) Pip to liaise with Ruth (item 2 above).
iii) Yaara &/or Inga to attend SDRSN meeting on Tuesday 24.05.16 (item 3).
iv) Inge to stay in touch with Marlene (item 5).
v) Yaara to stay in touch with Syria Hope Society (item 6).
vi) Yaara to work with Richard on new website (item 7).
vii) Yaara to share information for prospective foster families (item 8).
viii) Yaara to publicise next meeting (item 9).


Refugee Children Campaign Guide by Citizens UK

Introductioncitizens uk logo

On May 4th David Cameron confirmed that the government would support the Dubs amendment, brought by Lord Alf Dubs who himself had been brought to Britain as a child fleeing Nazi persecution. Specifically the government agreed to a) speed up family reunion for refugee children in Europe with family connections to the UK, and b) to consult with local government and then decide how many minors without family connections to relocate from within Europe to the Britain, and that this programme will only apply to minors who arrived before the deal with Turkey on the 30th of March, and will prioritise those most at risk of trafficking.

Citizens UK established the Safe Passage project to support the group of children in group a). Since winning a ground breaking court case in January Safe Passage has now reunited 25 Calais minors safely and legally with their families. The project is working on over 150 cases currently in Calais, and beginning to explore operations in Greece and Italy. This work is going well, if you’d like to support it the real need is for qualified interpreters and funding – please see here. The rest of this guide focuses on the children potentially affected by b). There is a real risk that with little funding available very few councils will step up to welcome these children and that the project will move so slowly many of the children who stand to benefit disappear into the trafficking networks of Europe.

We need to:

1. Target MPs to ask them to ensure that the deal offered councils is real and that the first 300 children are relocated in time to start school this September (one tenth of the total proposed by Lord Dubs)

2. Challenge local authorities to sign up to resettle at least 5 children each over the next year (which would mean 3,000 country wide), while offering to support them to make it viable by: a) recruiting potential foster carers, b) identifying potential language coaches and mentors, c) identifying schools, GP practices, and support services willing to help as per the Community Welcome Plan, and d) by demonstrating strong levels of public support

Background information

This isn’t the first time the government has asked local authorities to take refugee children. Over the past year there have been 950 minors in Kent in need of support, with local children’s services stretched to breaking point.

The Home Office, Department for Education and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) wrote to Council Leaders on 24 November 2015 to request that more unaccompanied children were transferred from Kent under a voluntary system. Local Authorities who took children in the financial year 2015/16 were allocated a day rate of £114 for children under 16 and £91 for those who were 16 or 17. The leaving care rate was paid at £200 per week for those children who turn 18 and are granted leave for remain, with the payments for a limited time only. It is likely that the levels of financial assistance for local councils will closely match these figures.

In this previous attempt 29 local authorities signed up to resettle 87 children between them: Wiltshire, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Greenwich, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Richmond, Hartlepool, Derbyshire, Islington, Surrey, Suffolk, Brighton and Hove, Leeds, Hull, Solihull, Calderdale, South Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Bath and North East Somerset, Sheffield, Staffordshire, Bournemouth, Croydon, Essex, Lambeth. Some councils offered to take children but didn’t have their offers taken up: Barnet, Durham, Bromley and Lancashire.

It’s not yet clear what legal status the children who arrive through this programme will be given but we expect it to be the same 5 year humanitarian protection being given to those arriving through VPRS, with an expectation that it be renewed if the refugee would like to in 5 years’ time. This will mean they have full rights and entitlements while living in the UK.

Steps to take action!

The steps we lay out here are designed to work together in parallel. There is no right order, they complement one another:

 Get your MP on the case

This effort to resettle refugee children from across Europe must happen fast and will only succeed if local councils are given the financial assistance they need to support these children. We must push central government to offer a generous financial package and underline the urgency of the situation. Teams and individuals should try to get their MP signed up explicitly to help a) lobby the Prime Minister to ensure the financial package is one that makes the programme viable (it must be more generous than the offer listed above which was insufficient to meet council’s needs), b) agree to back our call for the first 300 children to be resettled in time to start school this September. Please report any results to Daniel.Mackintosh@citizensuk.org. Much of this will overlap helpfully with the #4families campaign you might try:

a) Emailing your MP, you can do so at http://write.refugees-welcome.org.uk/mp/write

b) Calling their constituency office to raise the issue. Typically MPs receive very few calls so getting 5, 10, 20 people to do this is very effective. In a good call you introduce yourself as their constituent and ask to speak to the MP if they’re available, and one of their case workers if not and ask them to respond to you in writing about our two requests

c) Meeting with your MP on your own, or ideally as a group. Please use the relevant advice sections here on how to approach the meeting and contact us if you’d like more support

d) Take public action. These actions might include: a special church or interfaith service for unaccompanied minors, a demonstration in the town centre or an open meeting all of which you can invite the MP to address; or something more creative for example packing five school bags and placing them on the constituency office or town hall steps to symbolise the call for 5 children to be protected by your community

e) Or start a petition using 38degrees.org.uk

 Build your offer of support

Work within your local refugee welcome team and conduct a scoping exercise about local services. Please refer to the elements of the Community Welcome Plan listed here, in addition you might:

a) Establish whether there is a shortage of foster carers locally and if so then seek to recruit potential volunteers. Becoming a foster carer is a very serious commitment, those considering it should consult Coram’s advice here and Home for Good’s here. People should be encouraged to look online at these sources, then form part of a cohort who can together explore becoming foster carers through the local authority

b) To drum up potential foster carers you might seek to engage local congregations and civic networks, host an event with a guest speaker from Coram or Home for Good to explain what fostering involves, and put word out through local and social media

c) Survey what youth services are already on offer within the local community and which ones would be willing to play a role in supporting these children. Do this to supplement the provisions already contained in the Community Welcome Plan around schools and GPs, this guidance from Doctors of the World might also be helpful

 Campaign to get your council signed up

Getting your council signed up to play a part is your major objective. To do this build a compelling offer and then:

a) Start a petition using 38degrees.org.uk

b) Emailing your councillors and your council leader, you can do so here

c) Meeting with your council leader or the cabinet member for children’s services as a group. Please use the relevant advice sections here on how to approach the meeting and contact us if you’d like more support

d) Take public action. These actions might include: a special church or interfaith service for unaccompanied minors, a demonstration in the town centre or an open meeting all of which you can invite the council leader or cabinet member to address; or something more creative for example packing five school bags and placing them on the town hall steps to symbolise the call for 5 children to be protected by your community
Local authorities are under extreme financial pressure. It’s important that as you approach them you explain your desire to work with them to lobby central government to achieve a good financial settlement. They might be willing to issue a joint public statement with you calling on government to make the funds needed available.

Open Arms Festival 13-22 May – FULL EVENTS LIST

South Devon Refugee Support Network


A series of events fundraising for and celebrating our welcome for refugees

Open Arms week_CROPPED.jpg

Friday May 13th 7.30pm
Visible Ink with Sam Richards present CHANGING PLACES
Crossing borders with words and music
St John’s Church, Bridgetown, Totnes.

Saturday May 14th   11am
Singing for Refugees  –   Market Square, Totnes
Raising funds for refugees in the French camps

Tuesday May 17th  8pm
Playback Theatre presents WHAT SETS YOU ON FIRE
A piece for a women only audience – Bogan House, Totnes

Friday May 20th   7pm
REFUGEES – FACTS AND FEARS; a myth busting workshop
with Ashburton Refugee Support Network
Totnes Methodist Church

Sunday May 22 3pm
UNITY in MUSIC with Dartington Chamber Orchestra
Featuring Merit Ariane Stephanos & other guest artists
Great Hall, Dartington.

South Devon Refugee Support Network are :
Ashburton Refugee Support Network; Beyond Borders Totnes and District; Citizens UK Totnes; Dartington’s White House Asylum & Refugee Project; Embracing Refugees.

Further information about Open Arms Week from Anna Lunk : annamlunk@gmail.com   Tel.01803 76275


Exeter City of Sanctuary May Newsletter

Welcome to our May newsletter!

Please forward this onto your supporters and networks.exeter city of sanctuary2

This newsletter includes information about our AGM in July, the new Refugee Aid App, news from sanctuary streams and around the network as well as actions you can take right now to support detention reform. We also link you to four job opportunities in the sector. Please follow the links for more information on the stories that interest you and contact us any time for support or to share your stories and resources with us.

Sharing your stories empowers us all and strengthens our network.

Act Now on the Immigration Bill

Some concessions have now been won under the Immigration Bill including the recent news that the UK will now accept unaccompanied refugee children from within Europe. The last two House of Lords amendments on detention returns to the Commons on Monday 9th May. Please tweet your MP
or phone their office asking for their support on the detention amendments 84 and 85: 28 day judicial oversight and a 72 hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women. These are of vital importance in the light of other aspects of the Immigration Bill which is likely to increase detention.

You can find your MP’s contact details here. For further information see our news article here. Please share this action widely.

City of Sanctuary 2016 AGM and Conference

The City of Sanctuary 2016 AGM will be held on Friday 15 July in Cardiff. The venue will be Oasis, the wonderful refugee centre at 69b Splott Road, CF24 2BW.
Apart from the formal business we will have a very full day with workshops sharing experience and good practice, and a lot of consultation in groups on our future strategic direction and plans for regionalisation, as well as the criteria for allocating funds from the Guardian appeal monies.
Since last year the number of local City of Sanctuary groups and potential groups has almost doubled. Those groups which are registered with us and/or have pages on our website are members and have a vote at the formal AGM; if yours is not formally a member group, please look up our Guide to setting up a City of Sanctuary group and consider registering. However, you are welcome to send a representative in any case.
We hope very much that all local groups can be represented and if necessary we will pay travel expenses for one delegate from each member group – though we hope you can minimise our costs by booking cheap tickets or sharing cars or even bringing a larger vehicle with people from several nearby groups. Please let Emma know what expenses you will need as soon as possible.
We have space in the main hall at Oasis for 200, which is already more than we have had at previous AGMs, but it still means we have to limit numbers to one per non-registered group and two per member group (or possibly three so long as you include at least one refugee or asylum seeker). Please let Tim at Oasis know if you wish to bring a larger number or to book the (limited) creche facilities, or if you would like to use the (again limited) display space, or have something to suggest might go in the conference pack. We will be using an Eventbrite account; please look out for the formal invitation coming very soon and register your delegates on Eventbrite as soon as possible.
We are interested in ideas for the sharing workshops. If there is something you think your group is particularly good at or some experience you would like or share, or alternatively there is something you would like to learn about from experience elsewhere, please let me know.
Alan Thomas, National Chair
5 May 2016

Sanctuary in Politics Course for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Dublin has just run a highly successful and ground-breaking Sanctuary in Politics course for 20 participants who gained knowledge from practitioners in their fields about Irish politics, public speaking and the media. The aim was to enhance the capacity of the diverse group of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to add their voices to public discourse and political activities in Ireland. Check out the details and pictures here and tell us if you want to try to set up something similar in your area.

Health Stream of Sanctuary is taking off

Work with medical practitioners to ensure best practice to meet the health needs of asylum seekers has really taken off across the network. Click here for more information about our partnerships with for example Doctors of the World and academics and our input into a range of health conferences. Protecting asylum seekers from discrimination in healthcare is vital and is even more important in the light of the Immigration Bill and health charges for migrants.

Let Refugees Learn – new campaign for ESOL

Politicians across the political spectrum are increasing the rhetoric on the need for migrants in Britain to learn English in order to fully integrate into British society and contribute to the economy. We know many refugees and asylum seekers who desperately want to learn English but cannot access formal provision due to budget cuts, waiting lists and increased costs. We will be supporting the upcoming Refugee Action campaign ‘Let Refugees Learn’, which will call for more support for refugees and asylum seekers to learn English. We also plan to work with Refugee Action to produce resources to support activists engaged with the campaign and those who wish to volunteer to teach English to asylum seekers and refugees.

Schools of Sanctuary and new resource for Refugee Week and beyond

We recommend this new resource full of multi media learning activities for schools to help celebrate Refugee week. The Traces Project is the first digital timeline to tell the untold history of arts and culture contributions by people who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution. Design and art, music, visual arts, writing, multi-media, performance, writing and live arts learning activities from CounterPoint Arts supported by the UNHCR. Please share this with your schools contacts and via social media.

New Refugee Aid App

This new app will provide a single point of information for refugees and for NGOs to provide information. It is an amazing opportunity too for CoS groups to broadcast directly to refugees in their area. Obviously the app is only as good as the information provided to populate it. So please also let relevant service providers in your city/town know about this opportunity and ask them to get in touch with Mark Forsyth mforsyth@redcross.org.uk if they wish their service to be added to the app. Please see our article here for more information and to access the app.

Manchester launches new Maternity Stream of Sanctuary

Midwives, students, doctors, researchers, activists, a doula, NCT practitioners, third sector workers, theatre staff, volunteers and most importantly women seeking sanctuary met in Manchester this week and launched a new Maternity Stream of Sanctuary. For more on this story check it out on our website.

City of Sanctuary Blogs

Have you noticed the blogs on the front page of our website? Hay, Brecon and Talgarth have shared their experience of setting up a CoS group. CoS Trustee and Red Cross Policy and Advocacy Officer, Jonathan Ellis asks “Could we learn from Sudan?” after his visit there and this week Andy Pollack has blogged about “The inspirational volunteers at the Calais refugee camp”. Please contact Forward@uk.cityofsanctuary.org if you have a blog to share.
Universities of Sanctuary

Watch out for the launch of our new University of Sanctuary Handbook next month. This has been developed in conjunction with the University of Exeter, Article 26, STAR, CARA and others and will provide an excellent resource for universities seeking to be places of sanctuary. Sanctuary goes deeper than a scholarship and here is an interview with Alathea Osborne about the role of Oxford Universities in refugee support work in Calais.

Invite an asylum seeker for dinner!

A new project in Manchester has emerged: “Rock Paper Dinner”, which is led by volunteers. Its aim is to connect refugees/migrants with residents in and around Manchester, who are willing to host them for dinner. Check out the website and let us know if your group want to launch a similar project. We all know that people become impassioned about justice once connected with asylum seekers and having heard their stories. There is no better way to raise awareness then to connect people together.

New Play on LGBT Asylum Seekers

Real-life stories of LGBT asylum seekers has been brought to the stage in a brand new verbatim production by Clare Summerskill – Rights of Passage. Tour dates start on 11th May in London and the play will come to a venue near you, including Leicester, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Newcastle. Please see here for tour dates. Please share widely.

“Great play! The most powerful and accurate portrayal of LGBT asylum seeker stories I’ve ever watched.” UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group.

Shakespeare supported refugees!

On the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, Ian McKellan has brought to the attention of the world a little known and symbolic speech in defence of ‘strangers’ and refugees. See our article here and the video of Ian McKellan’s speech.


Paul Hamlyn Foundation is recruiting a Grants Manager with a focus on migration and integration. Closing date: Monday 9.00 9th May. Interviews 24th May.
Migrants’ Right Network is recruiting a Director-Designate. Closing date: 17:00 16 May. Interviews: 6 June.
MRN is also seeking a Project Manager for a new Vulnerable Migrant Empowerment Project (21 hours a week, 18 months duration). Closing date: 12 noon 23 May 2016, Date for interviews: 7 June 2016.
Refugee Action is recruiting a Deputy Operations Manager to work in their London office for 17.5 per week. Closing Date: Friday 6 May at 10.00am. Interview Date: Wednesday 18 May.


Contact Us

We are always ready to help and support you in your vital work.

  • Tiffy Allen, Network and Ireland Coordinator: tiffy@cityofsanctuary.org
  • Colleen Molloy, National Development Officer and Midlands Coordinator: colleen@cityofsanctuary.org
  • Rose McCarthy, National Streams Coordinator and Yorkshire and Humber Coordinator: rose@cityofsanctuary.org.
  • Forward Maisokwadzo, National Communications Officer and South West Coordinator: forward@uk.cityofsanctuary.org
  • Elinor Harris, Wales Nation of Sanctuary Coordinator: elinor@dpia.org.uk
  • Emma Finlinson, Administration and Finance Officer: emma@cityofsanctuary.org
  • Nawal Careem, Administration and Website Intern: nawal@cityofsanctuary.org