In Leeds, we are proud to extend the welcome of our city to people who come here seeking safety. We are committed to making our city a haven for anyone who needs its protection.

With City of Sanctuary, we want to create a network of people and organisations right across the city, united in making our city more welcoming, open and fair for all.

In November 2010, we launched our movement here. About 300 people came to celebrate this commitment and to share ideas about what we can do for Leeds to be recognised as a city that welcomes and supports all of its residents. To keep up with what we’re doing, why not join our email list (lower right hand corner of this page) and add us on Facebook or Twitter?

We invite you and your organisation – your school, faith group, business, charity – to sign our Promise of Support and get involved in whatever way suits you. Whether you want to display a sign, join a befriending scheme, or just smile at people you don’t know, there’s something everyone can do to help make Leeds more open and fair.

Read the latest updates on Sanctuary across the city of Leeds at our News page.

  • Students from Lawnswood High School in Leeds have made a short film explaining why people seek asylum.
  • Friday, 13 June 2014 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm
    Come along to our Clothes Swap Party! Friday 13th June 5-8pm West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Hill, Leeds LS2 7UP Bring good quality clothes, books and toys to swap or just come along! Learn more about City of Sanctuary and meet people involved in the movement Refreshments available Contact for more info
  • Two schools from our Schools of Sanctuary network, Lawnswood High School and New Bewerley Community School, took part in the national City of Sanctuary AGM this year on 27th January 2014.
  • Tuesday, 17 December 2013 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    OPEN MEETING Tuesday 17th December 6.00-8.00pm at venue tba Focus: our journey as a city of sanctuary An open meeting for anyone involved in, or who would like to get more involved in, the Leeds City of Sanctuary movement to make our city a more welcoming place for those seeking sanctuary. We will be using this meeting to start collecting evidence for Leeds as a City of Sanctuary, with discussions around: Where have you found/ seen sanctuary What was it about it? How can we make more of this happen? Where haven’t you? Why was it? How can we stop more of this? Join us for food, conversation and fun! For more information please email
  • The oversubscribed Schools of Sanctuary: Learning and Sharing conference was held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (soon to be the first Theatre of Sanctuary) in Leeds. Participants included teachers, students of Education and young people from refugee and asylum seeker families. In addition there were representatives from The Children’s Society, British Red Cross and RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service) and from City of Sanctuary (Bradford, Wakefield, Sheffield, Bristol, Newcastle, Swansea, London and Leeds). Trustee and keynote speaker, Forward Maisokwadzo, talked about Schools of Sanctuary in Bristol, with some inspiring examples of good practice. Three workshops were held based on the principles of Schools of Sanctuary (Learn, Embed, and Share). Delegates offered many ideas on embedding and sharing the culture of inclusion and welcome. They also shared resources (including the beautiful animation from Newcastle that Sarah shared with us).
  • In Refugee Week 2013 we held an art exhibition at the Together for Leeds conference in the Civic Hall. Two schools presented works of art by their students: Loanswood Highschool, which also works towards the Schools of Sanctuary award, and Highfield Primary school. The young artists from Lawnswood presented mixed media works relating to the issues of seeking sanctuary, inclusion and multiculturalism. Children from Highfield presented their creative response to a talk they listened to from a refugee woman, who told them about her journey to safety. The children wrote letters to the speaker, which were also presented alongside the drawings. The art works were a beautiful and moving contribution to the event, and we thank the children and staff who took part in it.
  • Sunday, 14 July 2013 (All day)
    Sanctuary Sunday has been named by the Diocese of Leeds and Ripon as Sunday 14th July, but actually can happen at any time it suits you!
  • Tuesday, 2 July 2013 - 3:00pm - 5:00pm
    Precarious lives: refugees and asylum seekers’ experiences of forced labour Hurley House, 1 Dewsbury Rd, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS11 5DQ Tuesday 2nd July, 3-5pm We are pleased to invite you to the launch of Precarious Lives, a report about refugees and asylum seekers’ experiences of forced labour in England.
  • Saturday, 12 October 2013 – 10:00am – 4:00pm Schools of Sanctuary groups, teachers and supporters are invited to our national conference on 12 October, 10am-4pm. A day of mutual learning, inspiring talks, support from other groups and schools, building partnerships and brain storming. The conference is kindly hosted by the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds (LS2 7UP). Easy access by bus or car. Please save the date and book your place! We invite everyone to offer a workshop, share their experience and join the organising team. For more information and booking please contact:
  • Saturday, 12 October 2013 - 10:00am - 4:00pm
    Schools of Sanctuary groups, teachers and supporters around Yorkshire are invited to our conference on Saturday October 12, 10am-4pm. The event is an exchange of good practice and will involve schools who already have schools of sanctuary status and those who are already delivering excellent inclusive practice and who wish to apply for the status. Come for a day of mutual learning, inspiring talks, support from other groups and schools, networking and brain storming. The conference is kindly hosted by the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds (LS2 7UP). Easy access by bus or car. Please save the date and book your place! For more information and booking please contact Yael: You can download the full flyer underneath the image below (under File Attachments)
  • Our latest newsletter is free to download from here, with inspiring stories from Schools of Sanctuary groups, menu of services for schools of sanctuary, tips and upcoming events.
  • A variety of events will be taking place in Leeds to celebrate Refugee Week, 17-23 June 2013 – although Leeds is having an extended celebration from 14-30 June! For more information or inquiries please contact the Leeds Refugee Week co-ordinator: Ali Mahgoub, Leeds Refugee Forum, One Community Centre, Cromwell Street, Leeds, LS9 7SG. Email:, Phone: 0113 244 9600 / 0773 317 1290
  • ‘I am Nasrine’, a film about an Iranian brother and sister who come to seek asylum in England, will be showing in the Hyde Park Picture House during Refugee Week and is a great film which gives an insight into the experiences of many seeking asylum in the UK.
  • On Wednesday 8 May, Leeds City Council heard a deputation regarding destitution, asking the City Council Executive Board to look into the issue of asylum seekers and destitution in Leeds. The Council chamber voted unanimously in favour of the Executive Board investigating the requests made!
  • Job Vacancy at City of Sanctuary Schools of sanctuary Development Worker, Schools of Sanctuary (self employed)
  • The Welcome to Leeds project was created to address issues of isolation when asylum seekers arrive in Leeds by matching them with a volunteer who can introduce them to the City. Read more about the project and case studies in the new booklet.
  • On Wednesday 8 May, Leeds City Council will hear a deputation regarding destitution, asking the City Council executive to look into the issue of asylum seekers in Leeds. Read more about the deputation and how you can support it.
  • We send out newsletters 4 times a year, and sometimes send out mini updates in between, as there always seems to so much going on! We love to let you know how the movement is impacting the city, and also to give you opportunities to find out how you can get involved in your area or sector. You can read our most recent newsletters online here.
  • Refugee contributions to Leeds were featured on national television during November, when celebrity chef Jamie Oliver highlighted a business started by a refugee couple in his new programme ‘Jamie’s Great Britain’. The programme was aired on Channel 4 at 9pm on Tuesday 1st November. Having tried and tested local Persian restaurant Dharvish, We recommend a visit!
  • On Sunday afternoon, over 100 people (including the Lord Mayor) from more than ten Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities gathered at Siani Synagogue to explore ways of becoming more involved with City of Sanctuary. Through presentations and interviews, we learned more about the asylum process and the experience of refugees. Whenever there was a gap in the programme, the room hummed with conversation as people got to know their neighbours and discussed what they and their communities could do.
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