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A positive vision of Welcome, Newcastle: City of Sanctuary

Like many residents we have been shocked and saddened by the plight of those forced to flee their home country due to conflict and persecution – this was particularly pertinent as the crisis in Afghanistan unfolded over recent months.

As a city we are committed to doing what we can to welcome those seeking sanctuary and to help rebuild lives – Newcastle has been able to respond to the Afghan crisis quickly, due to our ongoing and well-established City of Sanctuary network and will align this work with our existing refugee resettlement programmes.

Alongside the shock and sadness that has been felt it has been incredibly encouraging and inspiring to see local residents, as well as organisations and institutions in Newcastle respond in such a positive and welcoming way.

The story below details one such way that local generosity, mixed with hard work and a whole lot of sorting of bags, came together and provided something really special for people who had arrived seeking sanctuary in Newcastle.

North East Solidarity and Teaching (N.E.S.T) is a multi-award winning and internationally-recognised student-led project at Newcastle University Students Union (NUSU) which empowers the refugee and asylum-seeking community in the region through a variety of formats such as one-to-one English teaching, group English classes, sports, creative arts and trips into the local area. N.E.S.T runs every day, providing up to 13 sessions each week for people of all ages. They are also pretty good at galvanising support and did this very effectively through a local call out for donations to support new arrivals. They received a lot of donations and spent a lot of time sorting them all out into really thoughtful packs with specific needs such as age and gender accounted for.

It really was a citywide effort with donations coming in from all around, partner organisations such as Action Foundation and WERS supporting and sharing donations, Newcastle United Foundation providing support and logistics and lots of volunteers giving up their time to sort through donations and make up welcome packs. What an amazing way to welcome people and what a great effort Newcastle!