Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary also on Facebook.
To view this website in Arabic or other languages, click here >> GOOGLE TRANSLATE.
Refugees into Nature
Last June, Cambrian Wildwood invited us to bring a minibus full of asylum seekers to an open day at their wildlife restoration project in Wales, and they’d like to do it again! “At Cambrian Wildwood we believe that everybody has the right to experience nature and wild spaces, and benefit from the improvements this brings to physical and mental well-being. That’s why we have developed a collection of programmes aimed at encouraging a diverse range of people to get outside, learn new skills, develop relationships and build confidence.” City of Sanctuary volunteers often use their own cars to take a few sanctuary seekers to the Cambrian Wildwood monthly volunteer days, but with your support Cambrian Wildwood have now raised funds to pay for extra materials and the hire of a minibus, which is even better! “On 13th November 2023 we had successfully raised £15,008 (+ est. £956.75 gift-aid)”, match-funded by the “Save our Wild Isles” campaign (WWF/RSPB/NationalTrust). Click on https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/p/refugees-into-nature for more details and to read supporters’ comments.
BUYING BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS? Looking for stories to inform children and adults about the lives of asylum seekers and refugees? Click HERE for details of nine books recommended by the BBC Radio 4 programme “Open Book” (28/09/23). Stories to incite compassion and increase understanding (and a good read as well!).
The Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary AGM took place on Monday September 11th.
If you missed it, You can view the Annual Report HERE .
Refugee Week lasted seven days, but the movement for a kinder, fairer and more joyful world continues all year round. Once June is over, we hope you’ll carry the spirit and energy of Refugee Week with you, and continue to walk alongside people on the move. Every action makes a difference, and when we come together, we are powerful. Click HERE for some ideas on the national website for staying involved.
The theme for Refugee Week 2024 is “Our Home”. More details at https://refugeeweek.org.uk/theme-2024-ourhome/
Editor’s Comment: If you own any accommodation which has been declared to be unsafe, unsanitary, a fire hazard, or generally unfit for human habitation, then the government would like to use it to house asylum seekers. Or at least, that appears to be the intention of regulations currently being considered by Parliament to remove licensing requirements for asylum accommodation. You might like to write to your MP about it. Further information from the Chartered Institute of Housing at: https://www.cih.org/news/people-seeking-sanctuary-excluded-from-vital-housing-safety-regulation .
We welcome Stowlawn Primary School to our community of Schools of Sanctuary in Wolverhampton. “We are delighted to have been awarded ‘School of Sanctuary’ Status – one of only 10 schools in Wolverhampton . It is a privilege to be recognised for the support we give to all seekers of sanctuary.” (from their twitter feed). If you would like your school to be recognised for its commitment to being a safe and welcoming place for all, especially those seeking sanctuary, please contact Claire Sumner of the Citizenship, Language and Learning Team.
Displaced Student Opportunities UK Study opportunities to support access to university for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. https://www.displacedstudent.org.uk/ . A website jointly hosted by three organisations: Refugee Education UK, Student Action for Refugees, and Universities of Sanctuary.
Government Information on extending the Ukrainian Refugee Support Scheme – click on https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-over-650m-support-package-for-ukrainians-sees-increased-thank-you-payments-for-longer-term-hosts .
DONATIONS – We continue to raise money for our Exceptional Needs Fund for destitute Asylum Seekers. To donate to this or the Drop-In or to our other costs, Click Here .
Homes for Ukraine Scheme : Recorded webinar (as above) is now available online.
This session provided an update on the scheme and a brief overview of the key practical considerations hosts should consider if they plan to join the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
CofS UK hosted speakers from partner organisations NACCOM – The No Accommodation Network and RESET , who shared their expertise on hosting and community sponsorship schemes.
There was a Q&A session at the end. The webinar has been recorded and is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHs0w5_1LzA . A transcript of the Q&A, with expanded answers, can be read HERE .
A further webinar, with more updates, was held on Thursday April 28th, and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKoWeKOOhhQ .
Information about Homes for Ukraine support from Wolverhampton City Council can be found at https://www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/community/support-communities/homes-for-ukraine-information
UKRAINIAN REFUGEES in WOLVERHAMPTON We are very lucky to have had a Ukrainian community in Wolverhampton since at least the 1950’s, and they are now providing support for the 100+ mainly young women and children (and some teenagers) from Ukraine, and their sponsors.
A cafe and shop have been opened for them every Friday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Ukrainian Centre in Merridale Street West, WV3 0RJ, roughly opposite the Ukrainian Catholic Church. They would welcome donations of tea, coffee, long-life milk, biscuits, sweets, and non-perishable foods. Current clothes needed (as at 6/6/22) are ladies’ shoes/trainers and new underwear, and teens’ trainers. Also open for donations on Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
MATCHING SCHEME ANNOUNCED – The “RESET” charity is connecting refugees with sponsors across the UK, at https://www.homesforukraine.org.uk/ .
Reset Communities and Refugees is helping register and match refugees from Ukraine with sponsors across the UK. This may actually make the government scheme workable (i.e., difficult rather than impossible).
Reset Communities and Refugees допомагає з реєстрацією біженців з України і підбором для них спонсорів у Великій Британії.
Программа Reset Communities and Refugees помогает регистрировать беженцев из Украины и находить им спонсоров по всему Соединенному Королевству.
Homes for Ukraine Refugees scheme (activated March 18th, 2022).
Government website: https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/ , plus more at
This allows individuals to provide accommodation to Ukrainian citizens who do not qualify for the ‘Ukraine Family Scheme‘.
If you are not yet in contact with an eligible Ukrainian citizen, you can register your interest as a possible sponsor at: https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine , giving details of the accommodation you have available. You would need to find an eligible Ukrainian citizen yourself (perhaps through your local Ukrainian church/community), or use a refugee charity matching scheme such as https://www.homesforukraine.org.uk/ .
If you are in contact with an eligible Ukrainian citizen, then a visa application can be completed by either the sponsoring individual (inside the UK), giving all the details of the named Ukrainian citizen, or by the Ukrainian citizen (outside the UK), giving all the details of the sponsoring individual. The link to apply for a visa is on webpage https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-visa-under-the-ukraine-sponsorship-scheme . Note that some of the government webpages suggest that the visa application must be made by the Ukrainian citizen (outside the UK), while other government webpages state that the visa application can instead be made by the sponsoring individual on their behalf. In either case, the bureaucracy of the visa application is very difficult, and it is necessary to have access to the technology to upload copies of both the sponsor’s identity document and the Ukrainian citizen’s documents. There is particular difficulty with parents whose children do not have passports.
Organisations can also register their interest at: https://www.gov.uk/register-interest-homes-ukraine , giving details of the accommodation they have available, but cannot yet sponsor Ukrainian visa applications.
How you can support the people of Ukraine – Click HERE for 8 ways you can support Ukrainian refugees.
Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary joined with over 60 other organisations in signing the “West Midlands Pledge” to oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill (commonly known as “the Anti-Refugee Bill”). Click HERE to read the full text. “To mark six months since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, over 60 organisations across the West Midlands have signed a pledge calling on all local leaders to oppose the Nationality and Borders, which will punish refugees, including Afghans fleeing the Taliban. With formal routes like resettlement practically non-existent, Afghans will have no choice but to make their own way to safety in any way they can. The anti-refugee Bill will close the door on desperate people seeking safety – criminalising those who travel via so-called ‘irregular’ routes.”
The impact of the Nationality and Borders Bill is likely to be so severe that the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has taken the unusual step of strongly and publicly opposing the plans, stating in its response to the consultation on them:
“UNHCR is concerned that the plan, if implemented as it stands, will undermine the 1951 Convention and international protection system, not just in the UK, but globally.”
Please read more about the “Anti-Refugee Bill” (and what you might like to do about it) at https://bordersbill.cityofsanctuary.org/
We welcome The King’s CofE School in Tettenhall to our family of Schools of Sanctuary in Wolverhampton. Click the Photo to see more on the City Council website. You can find more about other Schools of Sanctuary in Wolverhampton on our Schools webpage . Headteacher Joy Langley said: “We are delighted to have received School of Sanctuary status. This award is a recognition of The King’s being a school where everyone is welcomed”.
WE’RE BACK! – we have re-opened our Weekly Drop-In at St.Mary & St.John’s Church Hall, Snow Hill, Wolverhampton, WV2 4AD. (Just inside the Ring Road opposite the end of Birmingham Road). Click HERE for map and see right >>>> for Google Streetview photo. For the safety of our volunteers and others, we ask: Do NOT attend if you feel unwell or have symptoms like a cold or flu, even mild, unless a ‘lateral flow test’ has proved negative. There will be hand cleanser for you to use if you wish. Wear a mask if you wish to. If you want to get up-to-date with your COVID vaccinations, we may be able to show you the way to a walk-in vaccination centre nearby (if we have enough volunteers). Do not be offended if volunteers avoid shaking hands or a hug – We like you, but not COVID. More details on our Diary Page .
Our Drop-In Centre volunteers need helpers! As you can read above, we are taking precautions to protect our volunteers and helpers from CoronaVirus. Could you help with simple but essential jobs like assisting at the Welcome Desk or in the Coffee Bar kitchen? (as and when you’re available?). For further information, please contact [email protected] . Volunteers will need to comply with our Safeguarding procedures and Code of Conduct.
What’s COP got to do with refugees?
It might not seem that climate change is linked to the growing number of refugees. Yet as the climate has become less stable, the number of refugees world-wide has increased in recent years. Sometimes the link is direct – e.g., when floods or famine caused by climate change force people to leave their homes.
But the indirect impact can be huge too. As crops fail, so poverty increases and communities fall apart. As people become more desperate, it becomes easier for extremists or organised crime to flourish and to take control. Violence ensues, and innocent people have to flee.
It is clear that if we do not get a grip on climate change very soon, we will see many more refugees and displaced people across the world. Coastal communities from nearby west Wales all the way to far off Pacific islands will face tidal flooding; food supplies will be hit and make prices rise even further, and famines will be more common. Poverty, war and instability will increase.
It’s in all of our interests to address the issue, whether that is our governments at their COP talks or us at our local community level. Trees are one of the simplest, cheapest, and most natural ways to control the climate. And we can all play a part by caring for trees and green spaces and planting more trees. Some asylum seekers have volunteered time to look after Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve. One very productive area has seen sanctuary seekers take on new allotments, growing their own fruit and veg, and sharing ideas with neighbouring allotment holders. (See photo and article below).
CofS on YouTube National City of Sanctuary now has its own YouTube channel, on which you can see video briefings, videos of recent conference presentations, and specialist webinar discussions. Click HERE to see the video menu.
One of our young refugees recently heard that his brother had died at sea:
COVID Vaccination Doctors (GPs) are making sure that everyone who needs a COVID vaccination gets one. All asylum seekers and refugees have the right to register with a GP. Here’s the card being used in the current publicity campaign [Note the 0300 311 2233 (standard rate) phone number in case of refusal]:
AND ALSO “How to access medical care as an asylum seeker” Click HERE to read an excellent leaflet which explains in clear and straightforward English: your rights, how to register with a GP, what happens if you move, access to mental health care and many other issues. Click HERE for translations into: Albanian, Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, and Tigrinya.
We are delighted to have been awarded a joint grant from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Barrow Cadbury Trust, to help us to ensure that the children of asylum seekers are not disadvantaged in their education. Click HERE for more information.
We have also been awarded a grant from NACCOM, the UK-wide “No Accommodation Network”, which has been used to purchase another 14 laptops. A “thank-you” video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/DIu6rT9Vyo4 .
?How to Occupy/Amuse/Educate yourself and your children during the school holidays? You might like to try some free online English Lessons: https://www.esolcourses.com/uk-english/beginners-course/free-english-lessons.html , then try the more advanced lessons!
We have a guidance leaflet to help people wishing to donate Goods for use by Asylum Seekers and Refugees – please click HERE.
A group of our female volunteers are succeeding with their Pants & Pads campaign – To collect donations of those extra essentials for female asylum seekers which asylum support payments of as little as £36 per week don’t allow for. Items can be handed in at our Weekly Drop-In (see below) or contact [email protected] . Click HERE for jpg leaflet.
On Tuesday May 4th we held an Online Briefing Session about the government’s proposed “New Plan for Immigration”. After a presentation by Emma Birks of Asylum Matters, we had a Question & Answer session to clarify understanding of the key proposals, and a discussion of future cooperation to promote the welfare of asylum seekers and refugees facing possible new legislation. A Brief Summary is available HERE. Details of a follow-up session will be available from [email protected]. Advocating on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees may include challenging those parts of the “New Plan” which may appear to be unworkable, illegal under international law, or contrary to established British values [Wolverhampton has been welcoming refugees since at least 1914].
If you missed the Online Briefing Session, there are Briefing Papers available at: OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT , “NATIONAL CITY of SANCTUARY” , “ASYLUM MATTERS” , “AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL” , “FREE MOVEMENT” , “FREEDOM FROM TORTURE” , and QUAKER . Unfortunately, the government’s recent time-limited consultation on the “New Plan” could easily be interpreted as asking, not “How do you think that the asylum system could be made to work better?”, but rather, “What do you think would be the most effective ways of making it more difficult for refugees to apply for asylum?”. Hence the comments in various briefing papers that some of the questions were just unanswerable.
Christmas Gift Appeal – Success!
We are family to over 300 sanctuary seekers who are far from home. In normal times, we host a Christmas party in December for around 300 local asylum seekers and refugees, but we could not hold this due to COVID-19. You may have contributed in previous years to our pile of Christmas shoeboxes filled with gifts for Santa to distribute, but this has not been possible with the current restrictions. Instead, we have given each family a gift voucher and a Greetings Card, and arranged an online performance by a children’s magician, and for this we raised over £3000. Thank you to those who visited our JustGiving™ page, or donated by cheque or bank transfer.
[The design for the Greetings Card was chosen from designs by the children who entered our Christmas Card Competition at half term].
Refugee Week Cookery Book of World Recipes to be reprinted!
Our volunteer Gill Kelly collected some of the recipes which had been greeted with great acclaim at our ‘Near Neighbours’ Drop-In Food Club. These were published in a Cookery Book (sample page available HERE) with the first print run delivered as gifts to our regular Drop-In guests, as some small compensation for cancelled holiday trips and days out (Thanks to our donors who raised the money for this). Now we are printing more as a fundraising endeavour, with the possibility of a special Christmas Edition. This is a collaboration with Hope Projects and the Wolverhampton Refugee and Migrant Centre – See their ‘CookBook Page’ at https://rmcentre.org.uk/refugee-week-cook/ . For the rarer ingredients, look for the Wolverhampton food shops specialising in particular countries, including those in Worcester Street, Salop Street, Newhampton Road, and Staveley Road, and also the many small Asian shops. Some large supermarkets (including Sainsburys) have a ‘World Foods’ section.
Why do refugees trust their lives to criminal gangs?
One former migrant opens up about his dangerous journey to the UK –
“Lessons Not Learned: How asylum decision-making in the UK has repeatedly failed”
For International Migrants Day 2018, about 30 people gathered in Queen’s Square, Wolverhampton at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday 18th December, to stand in solidarity with the Stansted 15. In an effort to prevent the involuntary deportation of 60 people from Stansted airport in March 2017, the Stansted 15 had blockaded a Home Office charter flight as it was leaving. After a lengthy trial, the group were found guilty of the terrorism-related offence of “endangering an airport”. The Stansted 15 faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for preventing the plane from taking off. Click HERE to read the response of a local poet. Click HERE for a January 2021 update – Appeal successful!
“Asylum seekers in ‘damp, dirty, vermin-infested’ housing” – BBC News, November 20th, 2018. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46282158# for this BBC news item about the report of the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. “Less than a quarter of state-run accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK is compliant with standards, a much-delayed report has found”. 43% were “not fit for purpose” or needed “urgent” repairs. Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary assisted with the gathering of evidence for this report, and offer this summary – CLICK HERE . The full report (76 pages) is available HERE .
See our Facebook page (link above) for photos of the recent West Midlands regional City of Sanctuary Gathering, hosted by Wolverhampton CofS. Click HERE for a fuller report, on the national CofS website, including links to some of the presentations.
Our thanks to Wolverhampton Quaker Meeting for arranging and funding a seaside holiday for parents and children attending our Wednesday Drop-In. Photo Albums of the Porthmadog hostel, Black Rock Sands beach, the Welsh Highland Railway, and Caernarfon Castle can be found in mid-August posts at https://en-gb.facebook.com/wolverhamptonquakers/ .
FOR YOUR ATTENTION!
Like to make a donation?……… Cheques should be made payable to Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary and sent to: The Treasurer, Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary, the WVSC Building, 16 Temple Street, Wolverhampton, WV2 4AN. Online donations can be made via the Charities Aid Foundation website (just type in “Wolverhampton City of Sanctuary”). At a late stage in the ‘Give by Debit/Credit Card’ process, it asks “Do you want to Gift Aid this donation”. The CAF admin fee deducted is 5%, which should be more than covered by reclaimed Gift Aid where eligible. If you are giving from your own CAF account, then that will already include reclaimed Gift Aid.
Additional English Tutor(s) needed! We have tutors for English and sometimes for Numeracy/Maths, giving lessons from 10 am to 11 am during our Drop-In each Wednesday at St.Mary & St.John’s Church Hall, Snow Hill, Wolverhampton, WV2 4AD. The aims are to give learners a knowledge of basic English grammar, spelling and punctuation, and also to give learners the confidence to speak, write and read English. Success means that we now need additional English tutors in order to continue providing the individual tuition needed by our diverse group of learners. Just come along. Volunteers will need to comply with our Safeguarding procedures and Code of Conduct.
The Refugee and Migrant Centre have a VACANCY for a Volunteer (two days per week) to assist in preparing clients to take the “Life in the UK” Citizenship Test. Details available HERE . More details from Sarah, 01902-313794, [email protected] .
Useful BBC summary of facts about Unaccompanied Children – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36714617
“A national shortage of foster carers means councils are struggling to care for the children”,
says the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
Click Here for information about fostering a child in Wolverhampton.
Click Here for information about the YMCA ‘Host Family’ scheme.
Getting English Language Lessons makes a big difference to asylum seekers and refugees, but isn’t easy when you have no money to spare. Your website manager (who accepts responsibility for any inaccuracies) has attempted to list the conditions for some people to get free College Courses, and the places where free or low cost English Lessons may be available to others. CLICK HERE to see version 13.
Refugees and asylum seekers who have fled to the UK want to rebuild their lives in peace. But, although they have reached safety, many of them can’t begin their new lives – working, studying, contributing to their community – because they can’t speak the language.
There are a few simple changes that the government could make that would give refugees and asylum seekers the access to English language teaching they want and need. CLICK HERE for details.
Low-cost refugee-friendly Parent & Toddler activity mornings for families in Whitmore Reans and Farndale (north-west Wolverhampton) – “Little Explorers”, every Monday. http://www.wildsideac.co.uk/march-2016?id=281 Phone: 01902-572240. Email: [email protected]
Refugee-friendly parent & child “Stay & Play”, every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Tabernacle Baptist Church, at the junction of Dunstall Road and Staveley Road, in the Whitmore Reans area. Postcode: WV6 0NJ. Bus Route 5. Up to about age 3.
The Local Government Association – Refugees and unaccompanied children: ” THIS PAGE is a one-stop resource; We will continue to update these resources as more information comes through – keep checking this page to stay up to date”.
Wolverhampton Libraries have many true stories of life as a refugee, as well as Studies of the issues. Click HERE to see them in the online catalogue.
For Children’s Fiction and Adult Fiction featuring life as a refugee, click HERE.
More Books on our Resources webpage.