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When you eat together, you stick together…

Hello, my name is Yazan. Iโ€™m an environmental and migration justice advocate, an ambassador for City of Sanctuary UK, and a volunteer at City of Sanctuary Sheffield.  

Last month me and Tom, the director of City of Sanctuary Sheffield, joined a film screening and panel discussion of Ken Loach’s new film, The Old Oak (hosted by Community Kino, Sheffield’s radical community cinema).  

The Old Oak is set in a former mining village in North-East England in 2016 and follows the story of a pub owner (TJ) who forms a friendship with a young Syrian woman (Yara), when a community of Syrian refugees are moved into the area. It highlights the shared struggles working-class communities and migrant communities are facing (including the housing crisis and the cost-of-living crisis) giving equal dignity to each, as it explores the challenges in uniting diverse communities.

In the film, TJ and Yara set up a food kitchen in the backroom of The Old Oak (TJโ€™s pub), to the initial anger of local pub regulars, which helps not only their new neighbours but those residents struggling to feed their families too. The film highlights the incredible impact that comes from communities joining over a shared meal and conversation.ย 

The Old Oak is a story of hope and a plea for compassion. It inspires the audience to come together and create change.

In the panel discussion, an audience member asked if the film was idealistic and portrayed a community story that would not happen in reality. To which I replied, โ€œIf this film is idealistic then Sheffield is idealistic, it is a model for other cities to build their cities around.โ€ 

Sheffield holds a radical vision of a city that is safe and welcoming for everyone that comes here. We will always hold onto this vision and work towards it in many ways.

Each week in The Sanctuary we hold a community meal. In gathering together with a sense of unity we reaffirm each other, despite the grim politically hostile environment, we will be together, sharing not only our meals, but also our stories of joy, grief, and love. We reiterate that Sheffield is a place of sanctuary and unity, not only for people who come from other cities around the world seeking sanctuary, but they are also providing it for everyone else as well. 

The Old Oakโ€™s community meal.

Open Kitchen Social Clubโ€™s weekly community meal at The Sanctuary. Tuesdayโ€™s, 12.30pm.

For those in Sheffield who are living in challenging times, for those with tearful eyes lacking the feeling of belonging, questioning their identities how people look at them โ€ฆ  
Wanna Cuppa tea? 

All the best,  

Yazan, Volunteer at City of Sanctuary Sheffield

This Christmas day, The Sanctuary is hosting a festive celebration!  

Open Kitchen Social Club invites people seeking sanctuary to join them on Christmas day at The Sanctuary from 11am to 3pm. They warmly welcome all those seeking sanctuary who do not have family in the UK, are new to Sheffield, are destitute or are single parents. Join them for a delicious Christmas meal and community celebration. Please share this invitation with all those who would benefit and reserve your place by messaging 07907 811084.ย ย 

Let’s come together to make this Christmas a time of joy and belonging for everyone. A donation you make today will make a tangible difference to the lives of people seeking sanctuary and will enable us to continue to build safety and welcome across our city. ย 

From our City of Sanctuary Sheffield family to yours we send our thanks for all of your support this year. It’s through all of our collective efforts that we can build the world we need to see.

With love,

Tom, Director of City of Sanctuary Sheffield