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Newcastle City Council have signed a motion in favour of becoming a City of Sanctuary. The following article appeared on their website:

“Refugees and asylum seekers will be made to feel especially welcome when Newcastle becomes a City of Sanctuary.

At a meeting on Wednesday (June 5) Newcastle City Council agreed to join a network of cities and towns which promote the inclusion and welfare of people who are fleeing violence and persecution in their own countries.

A notice of motion expressing support for the idea was agreed, resulting in Newcastle doing three things:

•Make a public commitment to becoming a safe and welcoming place by adopting the title of City of Sanctuary
•Support communities and voluntary, community and faith groups in assisting asylum seekers and refugees
•Celebrate the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees to their local communities and challenge discrimination
Forwarding the notice of motion was the council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Joyce McCarty.

She said: “Newcastle has an enviable reputation for being a friendly city which welcomes people from all backgrounds, including refugees and asylum seekers who have suffered persecution in their own countries.

“Following a strong desire to become a City of Sanctuary from our communities we will actively pursue this, and send a loud message that we care about people and wish to ease their suffering by helping them; encouraging others to help them and celebrating their undoubted contribution to the richness of our society.

“Where hostility and discrimination still exists we will challenge it and help foster a culture of hospitality that benefits migrant groups.”

To become a City of Sanctuary the council will need to sign a resolution of support.

Then in July a report will go to the Cabinet outlining what practical steps the council will take to embed the core values of City of Sanctuary into services and plans for the future.

This could involve publicising positive stories of people seeking sanctuary, supporting projects that help families and children settle into communities and schools, explain what seeking sanctuary means, offer meeting rooms to community groups and back Refugee Week activities.

Recognition as a City of Sanctuary, is awarded by a board of national trustees, and is given to a place which demonstrates that it is committed to living and spreading the core sanctuary values and that it has consistently put these values into practice.

The City of Sanctuary movement began in Sheffield in 2005. Two years later it became the first official City of Sanctuary with the council and 70 local community groups working together to create a more positive culture.

Creating a network has demonstrated the goodwill of people throughout the country for a more fair and humane approach to helping people who are suffering and seek sanctuary in the UK.”