CITY OF SANCTUARY
Inderjit Bhogal, current Director of the Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle, played a key role in the formation of the City of Sanctuary Project in Sheffield. After looking at the concept of sanctuary in Christian and other religious traditions (the word ‘sanctuary’ comes from the Latin word for a sacred or holy space) Bhogal explored ways in which the idea could be applied to the problems facing refugees and the communities in which they find themselves. As a result of his work, Sheffield became the UK’s first official ‘City of Sanctuary’ in 2007, committing itself to taking pride in the welcome it offers to people in need of safety, working with other statutory and voluntary groups to enable refugees and asylum seekers to be fully included in the life of the city. Since then a National City of Sanctuary Movement has evolved with 22 Cities of Sanctuary established across the UK and a further 15 projects under development.
The Derry Londonderry City of Sanctuary project came into being after Inderjit Bhogal spoke to the AGM of The Junction Peace Building Initiative. With support from the Community Relations Council, The Junction subsequently undertook a series of consultations to assess the feasibility of launching a City of Sanctuary in the city to tie in with, and complement, Derry Londonderry’s role as the UK’s first City of Culture this year.
Locally, the City of Sanctuary movement seeks to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking refuge from persecution. It aims to do this through the promotion of awareness of refugee issues and by working with existing agencies to ensure that practical measures are taken to include refugees in local activities and services, to address obstacles to this inclusion and to enable refugees to contribute to the life of the community.
One of the questions most frequently asked in response to the consultations undertaken by the City of Sanctuary project was “How can we provide a welcome for those escaping persecution in other countries when we can’t look after the people of our own city?” The City of Sanctuary movement is also about recognising and valuing all peoples from different ethnic, religious, cultural backgrounds who reside here or come to visit and, equally important, it is about creating a safe and welcoming place for those who live here but who do not feel safe because of a personal lived experience of verbal and physical abuse, bullying, marginalisation and other forms of violence and exclusion. In pursuance of these objectives, the City of Sanctuary commits to the following:
• Publish the findings and Guiding Principles arising out of the consultation.
• Request individuals and/or groups, organisations across the different sectors, which have responsibility for the health and wellbeing of our community, to sign up to the Guiding Principles and offering a practical actionable step towards creating a safe and welcoming place for all.
• Meet all requirements of the National ‘City of Sanctuary’ Movement to become a City of Sanctuary.
• Apply for ‘City of Sanctuary’ status (deadline December 2013).
See over for key findings and Guiding Principles - sign up today!
For further information please contact the Junction
Please see www.cityofsanctuary.org/sheffield