City of Sanctuary
City of Sanctuary
Newcastle has been welcoming people seeking sanctuary for many years. While those seeking asylum have no choice over where in the UK they are dispersed to, we take great pride in the fact that so many refugees chose to settle here once their claim for asylum has been determined.
As a city we are committed to doing what we can to welcome those seeking sanctuary and to help rebuild lives. We are honoured to be a recognised City of Sanctuary; part of a network of towns and cities throughout the country that are proud to be places of safety, and which include people seeking sanctuary fully in the lives of their communities.
What is a City of Sanctuary?
Our aim is to get individuals, organisations and institutions in the city to join us in enacting the principles of the Cities of Sanctuary movement. These are to:
- Offer a positive vision of a culture of welcome and hospitality to all
- Create opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary
- Recognise and encourage partnership working and network development across localities
- Identify opportunities for practical action and work on common cause issues to effect change within and across communities (turning empathy into action)
- Celebrate and promote the welcome contribution of people seeking sanctuary
- Engage people seeking sanctuary in decision making processes at all levels and in all activities promote understanding of asylum and refugee issues, especially by enabling refugee voices to be heard directly
Working together to meet our shared aspirations to be a City of Sanctuary
Newcastle is proud to be part of a number of schemes that bring refugees to the city for protection:
- Refugee Resettlement Scheme: this includes Syrians and other vulnerable families - there will be 90 families by 2020.
- Since 2014 Newcastle has worked alongside the Government to offer resettlement support to Afghan locally engaged staff who had worked alongside the British Army.
- More recently we have committed to support Afghan families under the Government’s extended Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which seeks to relocate Afghans who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, recognising the risk posed to these staff due to their employment.
- We are currently working at pace to resettle these families in Newcastle. We are working closely with partners to see if we can extend this offer and rapidly secure suitable accommodation for families who have recently been evacuated from Afghanistan. Newcastle has been able to respond quickly, due to our ongoing and well-established City of Sanctuary network and will align this work with our existing refugee resettlement programmes.
- UASC: we have a number of young people who arrive in the City with no parents or guardians and are part of a scheme that brings vulnerable young people to the UK under a resettlement scheme.
- Asylum dispersal: Newcastle has been welcoming asylum seekers and refugees through the Home Office’s contracted dispersal programme since 1999. We currently have over 1000 asylum seekers dispersed in the city; many will have their applications for refugee status accepted. We have also delivered a number of Government resettlement schemes, welcoming families from Eritrea, Iraq, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
- Hosting City of Sanctuary: City of Sanctuary is a national movement, which holds the vision that our nations will be welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution. Here in Newcastle the City Council hosts the coordinator of this work.
Through our City of Sanctuary approach we aspire to embed sanctuary principles across all Council services so that the particular challenges facing refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are considered and addressed in the way local services are provided.
Council of Sanctuary
We are delighted to be recognised as a Council of Sanctuary 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 during Refugee Week 2023 at the same time that we launched our Council of Sanctuary Strategy.
The strategy was informed by research with teams across the City Council, with our partners across the voluntary and community sector and with people seeking sanctuary in Newcastle to develop our Council of Sanctuary Strategy. In this strategy, we will tell the story of Newcastle as a City of Sanctuary and look ahead to how we can strengthen our work and support for people who arrive in Newcastle.