Just a year since the launch of Swindon City of Sanctuary, the organisation is delighted to host a regional meeting for the National Charity, bringing together people who have formed their own cities/towns/villages of Sanctuary from all over the South West, Wales and even Ireland!

It’s promising to be an exciting and inspiring day, taking place at Los Gatos in Old Town, where lunch will be served to all in attendance. Food is being cooked by Los Gatos and presented by some of the refugees who’ve donated recipes for our very popular Pop-Up Restaurants and for “Sanctuary Tapas”, an initiative created by Los Gatos as part of their pledge to support Swindon City of Sanctuary in making Swindon a welcoming, supportive and inclusive place to live.

With a welcome from Swindon City of Sanctuary’s Chair, Shareen Campbell and Development Worker, Nicola Wood, there will be talks from the national charity’s Chief Officer, Sian Summer-Rees, as well as from delegates from Wales who are working on a “Wales, Nation of Sanctuary” project. Delegates from across the region will share ideas and successes from their areas. “The idea is we’ll all go away motivated and full of new ways we can make our cities more welcoming,” said Forward Maisokwadzo, organiser of the meeting.

It’s been a busy year for all involved with Swindon City of Sanctuary and they were very fortunate to receive funding from the late Lord Joel Joffe, through his Charitable Trust. Since then, we have successfully piloted a hosting scheme called ‘Room for All’ in which Swindon residents with a spare room sign up to become hosts on a short-term basis, for refugees who might otherwise become homeless after receiving their right to remain in the UK. This gives them a vital safe place to be, whilst awaiting important documents to enable them to work and find alternative accommodation.

In June, Swindon City of Sanctuary took a lead in organising Swindon’s biggest Refugee Week to date, with the support of local businesses and charities such as The Harbour Project, Voluntary Action Swindon & Swindon Viewpoint amongst many others. Events took place throughout the week, including a community cinema, Art exhibitions, live music and a Global Tea Party – it was a huge success.

Swindon City of Sanctuary have also started a weekly Thursday evening event in partnership with the stylish Darkroom Espresso Café and The Harbour Project. It’s a relaxed get together over coffee, board games and live music and everyone is welcome (that means you!)

Development Worker, Nicola Wood, said, “We are thoroughly excited to be hosting this year’s regional meeting for City of Sanctuary. It’s a wonderful way for us to celebrate how much we have achieved in the last year. It’s fantastic to be part of a growing movement to make the UK and Ireland a safe, welcoming place for all who live here, especially for those who have had to flee from war and persecution. We are sure to come away on Thursday inspired and motivated to continue our work.”

Chair, Shareen Campbell added, “We live in a global community and it’s so important to show compassion, to have empathy and offer friendship to all our neighbours in need, no matter who they are, or what their background may be. For me this epitomises what the City of Sanctuary movement is about, creating a welcoming, inclusive place for all who live in our cities, towns or villages and this is at the heart of all we do”.

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