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The Sanctuary is seen by asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield as a safe haven where they can find relief from the maelstrom of everyday difficulties experienced by some of the most vulnerable members of our society. We support between 50–70 individuals every day, and over 1,250 people attended our drop-in in 2019. Here are some of the stories and comments of those we’ve helped.

FS, a heavily pregnant African woman, presented at The Sanctuary distressed, tearful and frightened. She had been in a trafficking situation and had managed to escape. She was street homeless and had up till then received no medical attention. We were able contact the Salvation Army, who support victims of trafficking, and get her into a supported safe house. We also arranged an urgent midwife appointment to give her and her baby a health check.

It’s home—you can go and find rest and sit down and no-one will come to fight you or harm you.

KT came to The Sanctuary in a distressed state on 23 December, after being told he was going to be homeless on Christmas Eve. KT has complex health issues and we were able to make an appeal for him to challenge the Home Office decision to evict him. We liaised with his GP to provide evidence so that he could stay in his accommodation based on his medical condition. We have been able to refer KT to one of our partner agencies to review his asylum case. This prevented KT from becoming street homeless in the middle of winter, when most services would have been closed and his medical conditions would have seriously deteriorated.

How you have been with me has been wonderful, you have helped me so much, I can never forget how you helped me, I am so grateful to you.

AAM was brought to us by a friend asking for help. He is a vulnerable man who has a disability and is unable to communicate with others, leaving him isolated and lonely. We were able to get him relocated to Sheffield, where he has support from people in his own community. We found him a solicitor and registered him with a GP. We contacted the local authority’s disability access team who helped get him some assisted technology, which helps keep him safe in his accommodation. We are applying for funding to source some one-to-one support in helping him to communicate with others for the first time.

Just before my asylum appeal court hearing, I went to talk to the pupils of Don Valley Academy School. The pupils wished they could come to court and support me. It was an amazing experience to see how they reacted to what I shared with them. The teacher said the pupils have been asking every single day if I have gotten my leave to remain. I am now pleased to say I did get my leave to remain. To me, this means freedom and a new beginning.