Swansea City of Sanctuary hosted a workshop titled ‘Meaningful Activity with People Seeking Sanctuary’ where pledged supporters and volunteers were able to network and share knowledge.
The workshop also included the presentation of four sanctuary awards. Awards were presented to Swansea Council for Voluntary Service (SCVS), the African Community Centre, Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST), and Unity in Diversity.
The awards were presented based on each of these organisations demonstrating real commitment to the aims of Swansea City of Sanctuary, through their activities. This includes hosting talks from the Sanctuary Speakers, holding Welcome to Swansea Mentor training at their premises, providing counselling services to people seeking sanctuary, and offering front line support to asylum seekers in Swansea.
Following this celebration, Hannah Chapman the Swansea City of Sanctuary Integration Officer, and qualified Occupational Therapist, gave a presentation about what is meant by meaningful activity and why this is so important when government policy prohibits asylum seekers from undertaking paid employment.
One of our Sanctuary Speaker volunteers, Gulnar Sohail, then shared her perspective of why keeping active and being able to contribute to her new community is a healing experience for her, with the 50 audience members.
The second session was focused on sharing best practice from some of our supporters. Julia Manser of Swansea Council for Voluntary Service highlighted best practice for inclusive volunteering, including ensuring there are a variety of roles and the importance of being able to adapt policies and adopt a petty cash system for on the day reimbursement of expenses.
Hay Brecon & Talgarth Town of Sanctuary then shared their experiences of joining the City of Sanctuary Movement, and navigating how their group would be able to provide meaningful support when their county only had one refugee in it! They chose to look further afield and offer support to existing dispersal cities, including Swansea, Cardiff and Newport. They offered their first respite break in October 2015 and now offer regular respite breaks and even host a destitute asylum seeker supported by Share Tawe.
Although Jon from Down to Earth was unable to attend in person, we were very luckily able to screen their celebration video, featuring some of our volunteers. We thoroughly recommend watching the video to see some of the great activities our partnership work can provide.
Following these presentations, individuals and service providers were able to network with each other, to see what opportunities are on offer in Swansea.