I fully intend to carry on the conversation I've been having with Tim on my previous post, but meanwhile I just wanted to share some good news.
City of Sanctuary is a movement started by a friend of mine, Craig Barnett, to build a "culture of hospitality" for refugees and asylum-seekers. The idea is to work below the (often toxic) national debate, at a level which is closer to people's everyday lives, to change the conversation about asylum. It's modelled on the Fairtrade City movement, which has been extremely effective at raising awareness and changing behaviour by working at the level of the town or city and gaining commitments from all kinds of groups and organisations, with the goal of persuading local politicians to join them.
Well, the good news is that, at the start of this year's Refugee Week, the Mayor of Sheffield has announced the council's support for the campaign - making us the first city in the UK to make a public commitment to welcome asylum seekers and refugees. This reflects a lot of hard work by Craig and others.
In his speech, the Mayor said, 'I'm pleased to announce today that the City Council declares its support for City of Sanctuary, this means that the City Council is now publicly committed to working with others to promote a welcoming city for asylum-seekers and refugees.'
There is still plenty of work to be done in encouraging other local organisations to become involved, and in working with the City Council and others on finding ways to translate this commitment into practice.
But it is a major landmark in the movement to create a culture of hospitality for asylum-seekers and refugees, and we would like to express our thanks to all of our supporters for making it possible. We hope soon to begin discussions with groups in other cities to try to create Cities of Sanctuary around the UK.
Why not come and celebrate this success with us at the City of Sanctuary Ceilidh on Saturday 23rd June, 7-10pm at Croft House Settlement, Garden Street, off Broad Lane S1. Admission free!
If you have the opportunity, please spread this idea - it would be great to see other cities follow suit.