The Sanctuary is a bright, new and vibrant place where asylum seekers and refugees can come for information, advice and support. It is somewhere they can feel safe, whatever their race, religion, sexuality, status, political opinion or mental or physical ability.

The Sanctuary is an open door through which new arrivals can come to chat, meet local people, use a computer, have a cup of tea, read the paper, or simply sit and keep warm.

Who benefits

Asylum seekers and refugees are the primary beneficiaries, especially those who are destitute.  The Sanctuary offers a central place where support agencies such as the Red Cross and Citizens Advice hold confidential consultations, with a comfortable waiting area.   It is a place where other new arrivals can access information and advice.

The wider community also benefit from having a centre of expertise, knowledge and personnel in the field of asylum.

The project is set to grow incrementally.  The main ground floor area is already open for asylum seekers, refugees and the general public to have a cup of coffee and chat with members of the international community.  pre-booked consultations with service providers take place on the first floor.

The Process

Phase One – preparation & launch

Phase One is now complete.  The ground floor has been fitted out for use as a walk-in signposting and information facility with refreshments, free wi-fi and computers.  It is open four days a week: Monday-Thursday, 10am-4pm.

The facility is also being used for meetings and  support groups, such as Early Asylum Support, ‘move-on’ advice, mental health and art therapy.

The first floor has been fitted out with six confidential interview booths and a similar number of hot desks for office use.  British Red Cross and Citizens Advice hold pre-booked advice sessions on Mondays and Thursdays, and South Yorkshire Refugee Law & Justice operate from The Sanctuary on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Phase Two – developing a social space

With the ground and first floors now fully operational, we are starting to prepare the extensive basement area to accommodate some of the other needs that asylum seekers, particularly those who are destitute, have identified.  This includes classrooms for English tuition, and a multi-use space for film nights, table tennis, relaxation and meetings.

Management

The building is managed by City of Sanctuary Sheffield, assisted by an advisory group including representatives from partner organisations such as British Red Cross, Citizen’s Advice, Voluntary Action Sheffield, South Yorkshire Refugee Law & Justice, ASSIST, asylum seekers and refugees.

It is staffed by COSS staff and volunteers.

The Cost

Most of the fitting out, and first year running costs were made possible by the tremendous response to our public appeal, which raised more than £70,000.  We are now in the process of applying to charitable trusts to continue beyond this.

If you would like to donate towards this exciting project please go to The Sanctuary Donations page.

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