We hope you all had a fantastic Refugee Week – it was incredible to see all of the activities and events throughout the week and we were very pleased to see two newly awarded places of Sanctuary receive their awards during Refugee Week.
Newcastle Council of Sanctuary
We are delighted to announce that Newcastle City Council was recognised as a Council of Sanctuary during Refugee Week 2023. This was awarded by the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network – a movement of local councils who are working to create a culture of welcome, inclusion and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary.
The Council of Sanctuary award was handed out to Cllr Maines, Cabinet Member for a Resilient City, during the Newcastle Sanctuary Forum at the same time that the council launched their Council of Sanctuary Strategy. You can watch a short video from the event here.
The Council of Sanctuary Strategy was informed by research with teams across the council, with partners across the voluntary and community sector and with people seeking sanctuary in Newcastle. You can read the strategy here and please do get in touch if you have comments and/or would like to be involved with the work of the strategy going forward.
Jesmond Community Library of Sanctuary
We were incredibly pleased to see Jesmond Library awarded as a Library of Sanctuary in recognition of all that they have done to welcome people to their lovely library in the heart of Jesmond. As a volunteer led and run community library Jesmond library is a special place that has a whole range of activities and events that take place as well, of course as its impressive library service with over 9000 books.
When volunteers at the library became aware of an increase in the number of people seeking sanctuary residing in the local area the library didn’t hesitate in stepping up and began offering sessions tailored towards this group of people with English classes, Friends Fridays and other sessions that were open and welcoming to people new to the area.
They have also held talks to support volunteers and the community to learn more about the issues relating to sanctuary and what is available in Newcastle to support people. And more recently they have developed and published a support leaflet aimed at new arrivals detailing some of the local facilities and services that Jesmond has on offer.
As part of their award application the library thought about the future and ways of making the library even more accessible and welcoming with thoughts about the possible use of technology to support people who arrive at the library and don’t speak English and the possibility of linking in with other Libraries of Sanctuary to explore books in different languages.