Thank you to everyone who joined us on Thursday 8th December at Volcano Theatre for our Sanctuary Awards presentation, AGM and networking event, which took place amongst the Schools of Sanctuary Exhibition (on display until December 21st if you fancy a visit)! It was wonderful to see so many people – familiar faces and plenty of new ones, too!
We started off the night with our wonderful host, Funmi, giving a welcome to attendees and jumping straight into our Sanctuary Awards.
This year, we were delighted to announce our three awardees:
- St. James’ Church – 2nd Church of Sanctuary in Swansea
- Down to Earth – renewal of their award from 2017
- National Waterfront Museum – renewal of their award from 2018 as 1st Museum of Sanctuary in the UK
Congratulations! Our Sanctuary Awardees have demonstrated such a commitment to the City of Sanctuary vision and should all be incredibly proud to be recognised for their contributions to the movement.
We then had an overview of the past year by Co-Chair, Alan Thomas, who presented some highlights from 2022, including our 5 new Schools of Sanctuary, the Home Away from Home travelling Exhibition, the Refugee Employment Workshop, our rallies against the Rwanda deportation policy, as well as some of our social events such as the visit of Inderjit Bhogal, and our most recent Twmpath! What a year!
The AGM aspect of our event followed, which covered our committee report, finance report and appointment of new Committee Members. We are happy to welcome 4 new members to our Committee for 2023! This also meant that we had to say goodbye to some of our long-standing members, to which we would like to say another big thank you – especially to Kathryn Williams, who has been the Secretary to SCoS for the last 9 years.
During the break, attendees were invited to enjoy some snacks provided by volunteers, to visit the three information tables from some of our closest partners: Share Tawe at EYST, the Better Welcome to Swansea project at SCVS, and the #FillTheSkiesWithHope campaign. Martha, a local poet, read her powerful poem to the crowd.
We then had Sian Summers-Rees, Chief Officer for Cities of Sanctuary UK, Amber Esther and Martha Ako giving speeches about their experience in Swansea, and answering three questions:
- What has been the best (and worst!) moments for Swansea City of Sanctuary?
- What are the challenges ahead for Swansea as a City of Sanctuary?
- What should the main priorities be for Swansea City of Sanctuary?
These three wonderful speakers started the discussion, to which all attendees continued. This was time for everyone to meet, chat, discuss and suggest answers to these three important questions.
Our new Wales City of Sanctuary Coordinator, Stepheni Kays then very kindly rounded up these suggestions and provided an overview. Thank you, Stepheni, for joining us on your first event under your new role! We will by typing up all of the responses to these questions, as pointers for how we can move forward as an organisation.
Thank you to Volcano Theatre for having us on Thursday, to Funmilayo for being such an excellent host, to all of our Sanctuary Awardees, to all of our volunteers, to all of our speakers, and of course, to everyone who attended. We are what our supporters do!