Welcome to our May newsletter!
Please forward this onto your supporters and networks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
We are always ready to help and support you in your vital work.
- Tiffy Allen, Network and Ireland Coordinator: email@example.com
- Colleen Molloy, National Development Officer and Midlands Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rose McCarthy, National Streams Coordinator and Yorkshire and Humber Coordinator: email@example.com.
- Forward Maisokwadzo, National Communications Officer and South West Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Elinor Harris, Wales Nation of Sanctuary Coordinator: email@example.com
- Emma Finlinson, Administration and Finance Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nawal Careem, Administration and Website Intern: email@example.com