Last week we attended the second South West Regional City of Sanctuary Meeting which was organised and hosted by our friends in Bristol.
Thirty five delegates from seven city of sanctuary groups throughout the region were present including Bristol, Swansea (and Wales), Exeter, Swindon, Gloucester and Weston. Delegates were joined by staff from the national network including Network Coordinator, Tiffy Allen, Communications Officer, Forward Maisokwadzo and our very own Wales Coordinator, Elinor Harris in addition to several of National City of Sanctuary’s Trustees.
It was brilliant to be together discussing strengths and the challenges each group faces. When feeding back, it was noticeable that nearly every group mentioned their awareness raising talks and sessions as a strength. Another key strength was a focus on partnership work, a core value of City of Sanctuary.
Looking ahead to the challenges faced. Groups mentioned lack of resources and funding problems, ensuring the voices of people seeking sanctuary are heard, making pledges go further than the signing of a piece of paper. Another key area of concern for the majority in the room was how to manage successful Syrian Resettlement Programmes, alongside more traditional asylum routes, without creating a two-tier system.
The day provided an excellent opportunity to get to know our colleagues throughout the South West region, to find out more about the inspirational work which is happening and to work together to strengthen our voice, sharing resources where possible.
Thanks to our friends in Bristol for organising, we look forward to the next regional meeting and to seeing how things look in a few months time!