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How you can help change the world

This month we wanted to share a deep dive into our unique redevelopment of The Sanctuary- work you can support here. 

We believe how we use space has the power to change the world. Spaces can challenge the status quo and bring into existence ways of being together which reflect our deeply held values. Spaces can provide safety in a world of danger and humanity in a world that dehumanises. Such spaces stand as direct responses to injustice perpetrated by state institutions on marginalised communities.  

Spaces of Sanctuary come in many forms, ranging from physical spaces (community centres, homes, shops, restaurants, libraries, schools) to networks of people (colleagues, movements, community groups). They are mutually and collectively created, allowing identity and culture to be freely expressed.

City of Sanctuary Sheffield’s vision is for our city to be a place of safety and welcome for people seeking sanctuary. We are most powerful when this is centred around creating systemic change and building utopias outside of the system.

The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a utopia in the heart of Sheffield that we are working to build as an alternative to the system. It is a beacon of light in a storm and the soil from which so much good work grows. It acts as a starting point, a place to build a movement, care for each other and offer a tangible and functioning alternative to an intentionally hostile policy framework.  

“I feel happy at The Sanctuary. I feel I can help others. You gave me power and hope, and now, I can smile again.” CoSS volunteer who has lived experience of seeking sanctuary 

The process of building and redeveloping The Sanctuary has been unique and rare. After reclaiming the space for the community in 2017, we are now undergoing an iterative, creative, thoughtful, ongoing design process of researching, actioning and living in the space.   

This summer City of Sanctuary Sheffield are moving out of The Sanctuary to make way for exciting building works on Chapel Walk. We are taking this opportunity to do some building of our own – vastly improving The Sanctuary for the approximately 1500 people who come through the doors each month.  

The redesign plans will make The Sanctuary: 

  • More welcoming and safe for those seeking sanctuary.
  • More useful for all the groups who use the center.
  • More beautiful, becoming a beacon of hope in difficult times.
  • More tailored to the requirements of people seeking sanctuary and those working in solidarity with them. 

Key improvements include: 

  • Increasing the number of bathrooms and installing specialised washing facilities for prayer.
  • Increasing the size of our community kitchen and its storage capacity. This will better facilitate our weekly community meal and increase our capacity for other community groups to use this resource.
  • Renewed decor with beautiful and robust terracotta tiling, vinyl tiling, carpeting and repainting.
  • Replacing the well-used and worn furniture.
  • Constructing a dedicated space within our social area for children. 

These interventions are born out of deep community research. We have worked with social architects to follow a design process that truly listens and is led by the needs and values of the people seeking sanctuary who will use and share this space. Therefore, all the redesign plans are exactly what is needed right now for the community of people seeking sanctuary in Sheffield and those working alongside them.  

In order to make these crucial improvements, we need to raise an additional £15,000 and need your help to reach our target. 

Your support will help us continue to offer a welcoming, safe, and beautiful environment for those seeking sanctuary in Sheffield. The Sanctuary has been built by and for our community, and with your help, we can keep it thriving. 

Please consider donating to our GoFundMe campaign and share it with your network to help us reach more people who believe in our mission. 

If you have any questions or would like more information about The Sanctuary redevelopment and our fundraising, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

With gratitude,  

Thomas Martin 

Director, City of Sanctuary Sheffield