Write-up from Ashley Beckett, City of Sanctuary London Coordinator:
The newest group to join the City of Sanctuary network Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees (@wwrefugees) had their launch event this last week with a stellar turn out. There were over 70 people attending an event that discussed what Sanctuary would look like in the borough.
The event was chaired by MP Fleur Anderson (@putneyfleur) and had a cast of amazing speakers including Lord Alf Dubs – Champion of Sanctuary (@AlfDubs), Councillors (@kevinbonavia and @BeeKemiA), a theatre (@BelgradeKim), a library, Refugee service organisations (@CARAS_LDN) and people with lived experience. Some of the other organisations in attendance were Patients not Passports, Just Shelter, CARAS, Leeds Playhouse, Putney Arts Theatre, Wandsworth Stands Up to Racism, Group 64 Theatre for Young People, MaskedMen, Wandsworth Food Bank, Be Enriched, and many more.
The conversation was a lively one about how different organisations support the Sanctuary movement and the idea of creating welcoming spaces. There was some beautiful artwork shared by the Belgrade Theatre (recently accredited as a Theatre of Sanctuary) which can be viewed here and awesome initiatives of welcome at the Thimblemill Library in West Midlands. The presentation portion transitioned into a conversation about next steps and feedback to the presenters; a lot of excitement in the borough and looking forward to seeing what develops in Wandsworth. Check them out here.
We look forward to welcoming Wandsworth Borough Council to the Local Authority Network as a Council of Sanctuary.
Comments from Twitter
“Maggie Filipova-Rivers is an expert on creating sanctuary. It’s amazing to hear all her top tips on how we can create a #WandsworthSanctuary”
“We’re delighted to be part of @WWRefugees launch event. It’s inspiring to hear @AlfDubs and @PutneyFleur talking about creating hope for refugee communities within the UK. #WandsworthSanctuary” Our World Too
“Hearing from a 17 year old from Congo about her experiences as a refugee here in the UK at the #WandsworthSanctuary event with @WWRefugees tonight. So important to support those who want to understand their new place they call home, meet people and learn English.”
We're currently looking for volunteers to get involved. This would involve contacting establishments (e.g., theatres, cafes, schools, libraries) that have expressed an interest in becoming a sanctuary and supporting them in gaining sanctuary status, being part of the assessment board for awarding the status, promoting the project to other organisations in Wandsworth and researching/contacting existing sanctuaries outside the borough (available on the CoS website) to get ideas and advice for prospective sanctuaries in the borough. If you're interested, please email us here or join our WhatsApp group.