Launched in October 2005 in Sheffield, City of Sanctuary started with the vision that the UK should be a welcoming place of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution. From this start in a single location, the idea of celebrating and promoting welcome to those seeking sanctuary has spread into a grass-roots network of over 100 local groups across villages, towns, cities and regions in the UK. This growing network is supported by the umbrella organisation City of Sanctuary UK (CoS UK). CoS UK provides resources, networking opportunities and support to the entire network of CoS groups; this includes promoting engagement with community institutions via theStreams of Sanctuary,Sanctuary Awards and other activities. CoS UK enjoys close partnerships with all the major refugee organisations and remains committed to working with them to build a united voice to advocate for people fleeing violence and persecution in our nations and worldwide. Wherever people seeking sanctuary go, we in the City of Sanctuary network want them to feel safe and find people who will welcome them.
What are Streams of Sanctuary?
At City of Sanctuary UK, we believe the sanctuary message of welcome and inclusion is vital in all spheres of society and in mainstream organisations. Therefore, in addition to supporting the development of a network of local groups, CoS UK also brings together different communities of practice to recognise and share best practice. We are committed to helping institutions and shared community spaces such as theatres, museums, health clinics, surgeries, gardens, maternity centres, schools, colleges, universities, shops, and faith institutions to become places of sanctuary and make tangible a commitment to welcome in their operations. A key element of our work in Streams of Sanctuary is awareness-raising: giving a platform to the voices of asylum seekers and refugees so that they can be heard by those who might otherwise never hear them in all types of public spaces – including schools.
The City of Sanctuary Values
The City of Sanctuary organisation and network is guided and informed by a commitment to the following values:
Inclusiveness: We welcome and respect people from all background, place the highest value on diversity and are committed to equality.
Openness: We are committed to a culture of working collaboratively within the network and in partnership with others.
Participation: Those who support our vision work together with people seeking sanctuary. We value and recognise the contribution of all involved. We aspire to ensure people seeking sanctuary are fully involved in decision-making processes and supported to become leaders within the City of Sanctuary organisation and network as well as the wider movement.
Inspiration: We work with enthusiasm and positivity and are determined to surpass what has already been achieved to welcome refugees and people seeking sanctuary. We act as a catalyst for change by being open to new and innovative ideas and through sharing knowledge gained with others and working in partnership.
Integrity: We aspire to high standards of honesty and behaviour, and always act in the interests of people seeking sanctuary.
The values are outlined in the CoS Charter which was developed as the strategic framework for the work of the City of Sanctuary UK organisation and the network we support.