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Should York become a City of Sanctuary


12:01am 26th September 2011

Cabinet members will be asked to pledge their support in favour of York becoming a City of Sanctuary, at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday 4th October.

City of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK, and cities and towns are encouraged to seek this status in order to become officially recognised as places of safety and welcome.  

York has a long history of providing help.  In the late 1930s the York Refugee Committee found work, housing, and school places for dozens of Jewish families fleeing persecution in Europe.  In the 1970s and 1980s, a small number of Asian families expelled from Kenya and Uganda found refuge in York. In the 1990s, York provided accommodation for refugees from the atrocities unfolding in Bosnia and the surrounding Balkan States. Many now play a significant part in the local business and commercial world.  

Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Social Inclusion, said:

"We want York to become a City of Sanctuary, where local people and community groups work together to make our city a place of welcome, safety and security for all who need to claim sanctuary.

"Many who make the journey to the UK to escape danger or threats to their lives feel isolated and fearful on their arrival, so this movement is about offering a helping hand. We want to spread the culture of hospitality throughout the whole of the city, so that welcome and support can more easily be found by those who need them the most."

If official status is granted, the City of Sanctuary movement will be implemented from the ground upwards. Therefore support from individuals, local community groups, schools, universities, sports organisations, voluntary and statutory bodies is essential.  

Revd. Inderjit Bhogal set up the first City of Sanctuary initiative in Sheffield and is the director of the Yorkshire and Humberside Faiths Forum and former President of the UK Methodist Conference.

A large number of people from many organisations in York have already expressed their support and the council aims to have official status within the year (by the end of 2012).

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