Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary News
Three people travelled from Huddersfield to Manchester for the National Conference on Saturday 19th January. Fatou Sallah, an asylum seeker herself, described her work to support pregnant asylum seekers and new mums with children up to the age of two. She has been training for six months to become a support worker as part of the National Childbirth Trust’s new programme. Fatou is one of the first women in the country to train to do this and is already supporting mums in the area. At the conference Fatou shared this story as one of the significant stories, others recognised the importance of the role of Birth and Beyond Peer Supporters and how this will make a difference to women in the future.
This week saw the premiere of the Kirklees ‘Come Dine with Us film’ at Huddersfield Methodist Mission. This project brought together asylum seekers, community organisations and individuals over a series of pop up dining experiences in 2011. Many volunteers were involved in this project including Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary, Huddersfield Methodist Mission, local residents, refugees and asylum seekers. The event included fabulous Gambian and Ugandan food thanks to Fatou and Angela.
The Autumn Gathering and AGM was a great opportunity to look back at a busy year for us at Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary and to look forward to the next year. There have been a number of new organisations joining over the past year so that now we have a total of 81 organisations signed up. The directory of organisations involved was published in January and we are in the process of getting the directory online. Our International Ceilidh in June was, once again, a fantastic celebration of Sanctuary in Huddersfield with wonderful food, music and dancing and a chance for people to meet and chat.
The Autumn Gathering gave us a chance to find out about what some of the groups have been doing to involve people seeking sanctuary in small ways and big ways. It was also an opportunity to talk about what we want to do next and there were lots of great ideas for the future. We look forward to another great year!
Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary Second Annual INTERNATIONAL CEILIDH.
The 2nd International Ceilidh, held at Greenhead College on Saturday, was organised by members of Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary support group, which is part of the national City of Sanctuary movement. The ceilidh was another opportunity to celebrate the vibrant diversity of Huddersfield. It came at the beginning of the national Refugee Week and was part of a host of activities happening across the country.
Huddersfield is the first town of sanctuary in the UK, and is part of the national City of Sanctuary network. This dynamic local movement is building on the long tradition in Huddersfield of welcoming, supporting and befriending people from different countries and backgrounds.
The dancing was opened by the Mayor of Kirklees, David Ridgway and was led by the All Stars International Ceilidh Band. The Mayor commented on all the hard work done by volunteers in organisations such as this. Local folk rock band Aelfen, which included two past students from Greenhead College, also played. The Abatimbo Burundi drummers provided an exuberant and exciting climax to the event.
Adam Strickson, Co-Chair of Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary said, ‘This was an amazing gathering of people from around Huddersfield who came together to share music, food and friendship.’
Asylum Seekers Support and Response
c/o The Methodist Mission,
Chair’s Report for AGM, 8/2/12
Asylum Seekers Support and Response (ASSURE) was set up in January 2011 with the primary aim of seeking to offer support to asylum seekers whose initial claims for asylum have not been successful and who therefore face destitution. An additional target group are those asylum seekers who have applied for government support under Section 4 of current legislation, but are waiting until it becomes available. From the beginning ASSURE has sought to partner with other organisations in Huddersfield who work with asylum seekers.
Our first venture was a conversation club at the premises of Cultures United in St Patrick’s Centre. This was reasonably successful for a while, but tended to attract overseas students and refugees with immigration status rather than members of the target group. When Cultures United closed the conversation club moved to the Methodist Mission, but the second floor location of the room meant that many were unable to find it, and after a while the decision was taken to close it down. However, attempts are currently being made in to relaunch it at St Thomas’ Church on Manchester Road.
The other early focus of ASSURE was a proposal to open a night shelter for asylum seekers in the former church school in Kirkheaton, but it met with the opposition of some local residents, and after a public meeting at the end of May it was decided not to continue with this project. Our thanks are due to the Revd Richard Steel, Rector of Kirkheaton for his active support and encouragement in all this.
‘Huddersfield is an enriched community, a more vibrant, and a better place because of the sanctuary seekers and refugees who live here’said Bill Dennis manager of Kirklees Asylum Support Service at the Autumn Gathering and AGM of Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary, held on 8th October.
Opening the event, Councillor Eric Firth, Mayor of Kirklees said ‘I am really pleased to see how support has grown so rapidly for this positive new initiative in our town. Even though Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary was only launched in June last year it already has nearly 70 supporting organisations representing a real cross section of groups.’
Huddersfield is the first Town of Sanctuary in the UK, and the group is part of a national network of towns and cities who are encouraging a culture of welcome in our communities for people fleeing war and persecution.
‘This dynamic local movement is building on the long tradition in Huddersfield of welcoming, supporting and befriending people from different countries and backgrounds’ said James Bar Bowen, outgoing Chair of Town of Sanctuary, ‘We want people to feel safe and welcome in our town’.
Tiffy Allen national co-ordinator of the City of Sanctuary movement said, ’ Huddersfield is a dispersal point for refugees in the North of England. There are many myths about sanctuary seekers but the sanctuary movement aims to dispel some of these myths’.
Two co-chairs were elected at the AGM: Adam Strickson, writer and lecturer and Omid Hosseini, a sanctuary seeker from Iran.
Adam Strickson said ‘We celebrate the diverse community that is Huddersfield and the amazing work that is currently done by organisations supporting sanctuary seekers and refugees. It is great to hear about what is being done in our town to create a welcome by the many different organisations and cultures that make Huddersfield such a wonderful place to live in’.
We are very pleased that Greenhead College has become our 60th supporting organisation. This follows on from the hugely successful ‘International Ceilidh’ held there recently.
In the past few weeks are have also been pleased to welcome a wnderfully diverse range of organisations as supporters representing cafes, shops, performers, community groups and our first masjid (mosque).
To see the up to date list of supporters please visit http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/node/488
And to find out how to become a supporting organisation, visit http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/node/475 where you can print or download a Resolution of Support.
Huddersfield Pakistani Community Alliance in Thornton Lodge has signed up as the 50th member of the dynamic local initiative known as ‘Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary’. Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary, which is run by local volunteers, helps to make the town a welcoming place for people seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. In just seven months, local organisations have shown just how enthusiastic they are about putting this into action.
Town of Sanctuary Chair Ann Bettys said, ‘This is fantastic news for us. We have all sorts of organisations – from allotment associations to sports clubs – promising to involve people seeking sanctuary in their activities. The Pakistani Community Alliance, which does great work with people of all ages, is just the sort of organisation we want to see involved.’
Mumtaz Ali, Manager of HPCA, said ‘We feel proud and privileged to be part of the Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary as an organisation representing an ethnic minority. We know what’s involved when someone makes that journey from their home country and what a difficult decision this is. For someone who has nothing, sitting down for a chat over a cup of tea can stay with them for ever.’
Supporters of Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary will celebrate this important milestone at an international family ceilidh at Greenhead College on March 19th, 4.30- 8.30pm. With delicious international food, dance, music, song, mask making, facepainting and balloon modelling there will be something for everyone. Tickets are available from Huddersfield Methodist Mission or by calling 0798 2079451, for £5 in advance (includes free food). Entry is free for Under 16s and people seeking sanctuary / refugees. Entry is £6 on the night.
Huddersfield Pakistani Community Alliance (HPCA) recently became the 50th organisation to sign a Resolution of Support for Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary. For information on how to become a supporting organisation please visit http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/node/475 where you can download and sign a Resolution.
To see the current list of supporters go to http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/node/488