2022 was a year of great growth for our movement. We built stronger partnerships across Sheffield, grew our community and volunteer teams, and became stronger and more determined to create change. But it was also an incredibly difficult year for many trying to seek sanctuary here in the UK.
City of Sanctuary Sheffield’s vision is for Sheffield to be a place of safety and welcome for people seeking sanctuary. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the work that contributes to this vision and look ahead to the coming year.
A place of safety and welcome.
The Sanctuary is our welcoming community center based in the center of Sheffield. It is our attempt to model the kind of society we want to see; the kind of society we are trying to build.
At its simplest it is a safe space offering a hot drink, a warm space and a supportive community. But it is also a hive of activity, used by a wide range of groups to host art and English classes, cook weekly free meals, offer job support and much much more.
A multi- agency hub of advice, information and solidarity
The multi-agency drop-in is the advice and information hub for people seeking sanctuary in Sheffield. City of Sanctuary Sheffield facilitate this space which works to challenge the hostile environment and reduce practical barriers to accessing appropriate support by bringing together a range of organisations, including ASSIST, the Red Cross, and the SHU Refugee Rights Hub, in one easily accessible and central location.
A unique collaboration of six organisations helping refugees settle into the local community.
Asylum support stops 28 days being granted refugee status. Meaning people stop receiving their cash allowance and will get permission to work (so must find a job or apply for benefits), and have to move out of asylum accommodation.
SPRING offers support to newly granted refugees. Both with their urgent needs (accessing housing, opening a bank account, applying for benefits and immigration advice) and their longer-term integration (learning English, mental health support and routes into volunteering, education and jobs).
Advocacy and System Change
We cannot and do not work alongside people seeking sanctuary without trying to change the systems they are forced to navigate. We advocate for their rights with big institutions in Sheffield, challenge Sheffield City Council to improve their practices, and also support national campaigning movements focused on remaking the policy framework for those seeking sanctuary.
We do a diverse variety of work alongside our key projects and are widely regarded as the organisation that coordinates and speaks for refugee support in the city. But there is, of course, much more to be done. As we begin this new year, we are reflecting on the UK we want to see and are even more committed to building it. In spite of ongoing political uncertainty, we will continue to work with joy and reliance alongside people who are seeking sanctuary.
Thank you for your ongoing support and solidarity,
Tom and the CoSS Team