Reports, Agendas & Minutes

CITY OF SANCTUARY MOVEMENT

At its January (2019) meeting, the Lichfield Inter-Faith Forum backed a suggestion that an invitation be extended to the Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal, founder of the City of Sanctuary Movement to address an open meeting

with the purpose of exploring with us the possibility of Lichfield becoming a City of Sanctuary. The meeting was duly arranged for Saturday morning March 2nd at the Boley Park community hall when an audience of around 60 gathered to hear Dr Bhogal and find out more about the Movement. We learned that from its beginnings in Sheffield ( 2005), there are now over 100 registered places of Sanctuary in Britain, including towns, cities, villages, schools and universities. Dr Bhogal, drawing on his own experience as an asylum seeker, stressed the vital importance of places of safety and welcome in a dangerous, unsafe world,for those who come among us as strangers, seeking asylum.

He likened the mushroom growth of the movement to the rise of the Fairtrade towns campaign in the early years of the millennium. He said that City of Sanctuary is a grassroots movement whose purpose is to secure commitment by the many different sections of the community to its core principles, which are, a) to offer a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all, b) to create opportunities for relationships of friendship between local people and those seeking sanctuary, c)to celebrate and promote the positive contribution to the host community of people seeking sanctuary and d) to foster understanding of asylum and refugee issues, especially by enabling refugee voices to be heard directly.

We heard from Jude Killip of the Lichfield Refugee Action Group of the support given by the group to the two Syrian refugee families who arrived in Lichfield last year and the role of the mosque in their early ‘settling in’. This is ongoing.

Councillor David Leytham (then mayor of Lichfield) spoke in support of the movement and of the vital need to ensure that when other refugees arrive among us proper provision is made for their welcome and re-habilitation.

Over half of those present at the meeting expressed willingness to help get City of Sanctuary off the ground in Lichfield, most of whom were present when regional organiser Ben Margolis visited us in May. A steering group will be set up in the near future to begin planning for the campaign leading eventually to endorsement by the national Movement and the Local Authority.

‘ Lichfield will find its own way to become a City of Sanctuary and celebrate that status with pride’ (Inderjit Bhogal)

Warren Bardsley (on behalf of LIFF)

For further information please email w.bardsley39@btinternet.com