Please revisit this page which is under regular review. Please contact us if you have anything to add or wish to see other topics covered.
Creative Ways to continue working with people seeking sanctuary.
As face to face services are closed down our primary concern is that people seeking sanctuary do not become isolated. Many will not have family support and long term isolation can damage wellbeing and mental health. We are guided by our network principles – we can be leaders and movers behind networks across a city or borough to ensure support is coordinated with other voluntary organisations and local authorities.
Three of our key network principles are:
- Create opportunities for relationships of friendship and solidarity between local people and those seeking sanctuary
- Recognise and encourage partnership working and network development across localities;
- Identify opportunities for working on common cause issues within and across communities
Connect and Create is a 6 weeks about building connections with others and celebrating what is important about being part of a community of sanctuary.
So for example see how Bradford CoS has responded here. Swansea CoS also set up a cross sector meeting to talk about pooling resources on maintaining service provision for people seeking sanctuary. In Bristol, the refugee sector came together to ensure that no-one falls through the gaps created by the suspension of face to face services. See their article City of Hope: Bristol’s refugee sector response to Covid-19.
Sheffield City of Sanctuary have created a Virtual Sanctuary – check it out on their website. They also have a comprehensive information page on Covid-19 on their brilliant collaborative Asylum Journey Sheffield website including emergency services available, health advice and HO updates. Their multi-agency Covid-19 Support Services Sheffield leaflet (now in 5 languages) has gone out to everyone seeking sanctuary via the asylum support accommodation provider.
If your local City of Sanctuary group have any suggestions or examples to add to the following sections, please let us know.
See also Refugee Women Connect‘s June 2020 report Gendered Considerations in the Asylum System during Covid-19 – Guidance for organisations supporting asylum-seeking and refugee women.
Please note, we are working to restore the section on Meeting Basic Needs.
Many face to face activities are being restored as restrictions and risk assessments allow. Here are some useful links provided by Tudor Trust:
• Government advice on the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities.
• Advice sheet on returning to your premises from the Ethical Property Foundation.
• The Cranfield Trust offer a range of advice, webinars and one to one support on all areas of charity management including finance, communication and business planning. Give them a call on 01794 830338 more information available on their website.
• For legal advice and support Bates Wells offer blogs, webinars and a free 30 minute call for charities.
• The Small Charity Coalition supports small charities to access the skills, tools and information they need. There is a wealth of information on their website, including webinars and support from their team over the phone:
• The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) has recently added more slots for voluntary sector leaders to join their peer support sessions. Sign up here:
Tudor Trust continues to share the latest opportunities on their resources page on our website.
Tips for staying in touch from home:
One of North East Sanctuary Ambassador’s, Shams, told us:
“We are trying to create online groups, due to the social distancing rules, where once or twice a week over Zoom, social media like WhatsApp groups, we can have an exchange of ideas, talk about the advocacy we are doing and how we can continue that virtually, on social media. We have also being using Zoom to host improvised comedy, sharing jokes and stories to lift people’s morale. People can come up with uplifting videos for us and for the wider British public”
You can read more about positive examples from the North East here.
See also useful tips on use of mobile phones for video calls and data from The Leeds Migration Partnership here. Please share ways which groups might enable access to data for people seeking sanctuary.
- Schedule meetings via Zoom (City of Sanctuary have an upgraded account, with unlimited time. Click here for more information and to book a time slot).
- Set up WhatsApp groups to keep in touch with people. Remember to be responsible with the use of this group.
- ‘Phone call befrienders’ – if it is suitable to do so, why not pair up people in your group to have a weekly phone chat. See the Remote Befrienders Project from Swindon CoS.
- Online training session over Zoom. Perhaps there’s someone in your group who has skills in IT or how to use online software to keep connected?
- Why not make a video? Remember to seek permission from anyone in the video, with their full knowledge and consent of where it might end up (i.e. on social media). Contact [email protected] if you want to help make videos for City of Sanctuary advocacy, awareness raising and information purposes.
- Virtual events – Maison Foo – a Theatre Company of Sanctuary have replaced their Meet Your Neighbour events with encouragement to
- virtually “boogie” together to their playlist on Facebook/Twitter. See the Hello Neighbour video.
- join Ray playing a mini santur concert from his lounge to yours
- join Nasrin to drink Persian tea and have a dance in her lovely garden
- Set up Slack Communities – for information sharing and bringing together people seeking sanctuary with local people, hosting conversational English, book clubs etc. See the fabulous TimePeace example. CoS UK now has a Network Slack Workspace to keep groups connected.
Northumberland County of Sanctuary have developed a variety of ways to keep in touch with nearly 300 people during lockdown working in partnership with the Red Cross and other charities. They have language support groups, distribution of food and other necessities, ESOL etc. Check out how they have organised and their list of activities here for inspiration.