Coventry City of Sanctuary News
Earlier in the year we wrote to everyone who had pledged support to Coventry City of Sanctuary asking a number of questions. From the responses we received it was clear that many would value an annual meeting in which we can learn from one another about the various aspects of working with those who seek sanctuary in Coventry. As a result we have organised Working with Sanctuary in association with the Coventry Peace Festival. This will be an information fair for individuals and organizations working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants where invited contributors will share their experience. There should also be space for you to bring information about your own work and network with other supporters of Coventry City of Sanctuary. We look forward to seeing many of you there.
Confirmed Speakers are:-
‘Walking in Faith’ audio-visual presentation on a day in the life of destitute asylum seekers in the city – with Mjiba (one participant) present
Sue Sampson- Carriers of Hope –
Refugee and Migrant Centre Community Partnerships Unit
Murielle Galvani, Schools for Sanctuary
Rumbi Bvunzawabaya, legal issues
Sabir Zazai, Community Based Champions Network
and an opportunity to pledge support to City of Sanctuary.
Please download the attached leaflet and circulate amongst your networks
Our Hope Project Christmas cards are ready for pre-order now. The images are reflective of the season and feature a design by Senait Gebremichael, a refugee, two images by Lorraine O’Hagan, our Art Therapist, and a final one is by Kristen Bangert, a Dutch placement student at our designers.
The cards are available in packs of 10 of each design. The regular price will be £7.50 per pack but if you pre-order before November 4th 2011 the price is only £6.
All the money raised from these cards will go to The Hope Fund Coventry a special trust of The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (Charity number 1090123). The fund provides food, shelter and other essentials to destitute asylum seekers who are given no state assistance. The Rev Dr Bishop Christopher Cocksworth is the Bishop of Coventry and patron of the fund.
Click here to order your cards now:
Through the initiative of the City of Sanctuary Action Group, four new ESOL classes started at Coventry Refugee & Migrant Centre last year. The classes are run purely by volunteers, with a qualified ESOL teacher in each class. Nearly a year on, both the students and teachers are very enthusiastic about how things are going:
“It is very good for me. It helps for understand, it’s very nice.”
“Very very good, especially Ashton and Tom!”
“We want more classes, too many people need lessons.”
“I like this class, every teacher is good speaking, in writing, speaking, listening and everything.”
And from the teachers:
“It’s absolutely amazing, the students are so keen and there’s so much peer support – they really took on board that we would only have English spoken in the lessons. We’ve got the students on three tables with a volunteer on each table. It’s like three classes within one class. I’m really excited about it!” Ingrid
“It’s going fantastically well. We’ve got a huge waiting list. This really feels like we are making a difference.” Ashton
“This class is a good kick-start for people’s English. They are very eager to learn.” Abe
“We do speaking, reading and writing. The students seem to enjoy it and cooperate well together. There’s a good atmosphere and people are making new friends.” Frances
The classes are open to beginners and intermediate level and are open to all (especially to those who are not eligible for college classes). If you would like to find out more do contact Rachel via Coventry@cityofsanctuary.org.
Following meetings with refugees in the city about the rising levels of hate crime we set up a ‘Hate Crime Helpline’. Staffed by trained refugees and other migrants it opened on May 10th 2010
It is open:
Monday, Wednesday and Sunday (5pm -8pm)
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (10am–1pm)
The telephone number is 0808-800-0051 and is free from both land lines and mobiles. There is also a website www.hatecrimehelpline.org and it is on facebook
Ibrahim, one of the volunteers said, “I was so pleased that we were there to help the man I spoke with this morning. He had suffered a terrible ordeal and this was the third attack at his home. His wife has gone to stay with a friend and is frightened of coming back”.
As well as taking calls, the volunteers also go out into the community to talk about hate crime and what can be done. We are currently doing special events at the university and the colleges and the local ESOL classes.
A City of Sanctuary is one where neighbourhoods and work places are friendly and services are accessible and welcoming.
We have just completed a project in partnership with NHS Coventry to make GP surgeries more welcoming to refugees and other newcomers.
We are lucky to have a GP on our City of Sanctuary working group who is well respected by patients and doctors alike. To date, 24 GPs have personally signed the City of Sanctuary Pledge and we have an excellent health centre based in the Refugee Centre for those who do not yet have their refugee status.
However, some GPs are unfamiliar with refugee issues and don’t use interpreters when necessary, despite it being a free service. Similarly, some refugees do not yet understand the health care systems.
We asked doctors and refugees what difficulties they experienced and then ran workshops to share these findings with refugees and health professionals.
Below are three attachments. One is for doctors, one for receptionists and one for refugees. The refugee leaflet is also available in French, Arabic, Somali, Mandarin and Tigrinya on request. Please adapt and use these documents in other cities too.
So far 77 organisations have signed up in support of Coventry being a City of Sanctuary and pledged to do what they can in their organisation to bring this about. They vary in size and scope but so far we have only one organisation from the private sector.
The Coventry group has just published its most recent newsletter with stories about:
Coventry Peace Festival
Celebrating our first year of activities
Health project to make GP’s surgeries more welcoming
and much, much more ……….