City of Sanctuary is a grassroots movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.
I first heard about this movement when my friends Hazel and Richard told me about them, and that the Quakers Meeting House on Thornhill Street, Wakefield offered a drop in session for asylum seekers on a Wednesday morning. Most especially was their need for items of clothing and shoes as these people have fled their homes and countries with nothing more than what they were wearing.
On Wednesday this week I dropped in with some bags of what I hoped would be useful. Linda who manages the centre, said they were looking for volunteers willing to help in some way and just talk with people who come through their doors.
The following are excerpts from the brochure; I for one had not realised that Trevor MacDonald and Dr John Sentamu were refugees!
The following pages are from the Council’s brochure about the work of the group for more information.
Wakefield District City of Sanctuary Mission Statement
We take pride in welcoming asylum seekers and refugees to our city and district and offer them every opportunity to share and contribute in the life of our communities.
Wakefield District offers safety and welcome to people whose lives are in danger in their own countries.
Asylum seekers come to the UK leaving their country culture and families not knowing whether they will ever see them again. Despite this they bring with them the desire to make a positive contribution to our district using their skills, talents and cultural diversity.
To promote and encourage the inclusion of refugees and Asylum Seekers in the Wakefield District.
To work towards the title of ‘City of Sanctuary’ by inspiring the people of Wakefield City and District to make the area a place of welcome and safety.
To encourage and support local communities, voluntary groups, faith community organisations to welcome and assist Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
To publicise and celebrate the contribution that Asylum Seekers and Refugees make to their local communities, and to our society and culture. To challenge hostilities and discrimination levelled against Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
An Asylum Seeker is a person who, through fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, social group, or political opinion, has crossed an international frontier into a country in which he or she hopes to be allowed to stay. Each case is heard by the Home Office Asylum Seekers are not permitted to work.
A Refugee is a person whose application to the Home office has been accepted; they have proved that they would face persecution in their own country. They have limited rights with option to apply for citizenship.
A Migrant Worker is a person who chooses to come to the UK to work.
Some things you may not know
- Fish and Chips, the Mini and Marks & Spencer's were created by Refugees.
- Some famous Refugees:Sir Trevor McDonald' Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, Bob Marley, Jesus
- About a third of Refugees contribute to their communities through voluntary work.
- Many Refugees have academic or teaching qualifications, and there are over 1500 Refugees teaching in England
- More than 1100 medically qualified Refugees are recorded on the British Medical Associations database
- Asylum Seekers account for less than 3% of net immigration in to the UK.
- Article 15 of the International Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has a right to a Nationality.
- Seeking Asylum is a human right.
Ways you can help as an individual or as a group
- Become a member of Wakefield City of Sanctuary
- Take part in City of Sanctuary and/or a Refugee Week events
- Befriend people seeking sanctuary
- Raise funds for City of Sanctuary by running a Coffee Morning, having a book sale, doing a sponsored walk.
- Provide short or long-term accommodation or support for destitute Asylum Seekers
- Offer an Asylum Seeker membership of your group, club, choir or association
- Organisations can offer volunteer placements for Asylum Seekers.
Contact us with your ideas, and we can explore other ways of helping.
- Celebratory and Festive Coffee Mornings and Social Evenings
- In partnership with Wakefield Cathedral (top left) assist with intercultural women’s groups.
- In partnership with Wakefield Quakers (bottom left) set up a Drop in for Asylum Seekers and Refugees.
- Encourage people from different cultures to meet and socialise together
- Raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges Asylum Seekers have to face.
- Raise funds and food for destitute Asylum Seekers
- Create partnerships to facilitate a ‘Hosting Scheme’ for destitute Asylum Seekers and new refugees.
- Encourage interest groups, social groups and activity for al to share
Interesting things we have done, are doing, will be doing
- Working with artists, musicians and writers from different cultures
- Raising funds for destitute Asylum Seekers
- Raising awareness of the plight of Asylum Seekers in our communities
- Encouraging people from different cultures to meet and socialise together.
- Weekly Drop-in: offers friendship and help with English conversation, written work and form filling. (Thornhill Street WF1 1NQ)
- Book swaps / coffee mornings
- English conversation sessions
- Parties bringing young people from different cultures together and social events
- Themed cultural events, music, dance and food
- Women’s / men’s / walking / interest groups
- Sports for all ages
If you would like to get involved or come along to any of these events please contact us at
we would love to see you.
Check the City of Sanctuary website for upcoming events
Ways people help
- Publicise City of Sanctuary, Refugee Week and other refugee events in our communities
- Befriend people seeking sanctuary and be neighbourly.
- Offer a place in your club, choir, or group to an Asylum Seeker.
- Offer voluntary work placement to an Asylum Seeker or Refugee.
- Join us and help make Wakefield City & District a welcoming place.
If you would like to get involved or would like more information call into the:
Asylum Seekers and Refugee Drop-in
Quaker Meeting House,
on Wednesdays from 10:00am to 12:00 noon.
You can contact the local representative on 07901 057 388,
Check the City of Sanctuary website for news and forthcoming events: