The Sanctuary is a bright 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, 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.
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 a wide range of 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 open for asylum seekers, refugees and the general public to have a cup of coffee and chat with members of the international community, as well . Pre-booked consultations with service providers take place on the first floor.
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 consultation rooms 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.
The basement is partly operational, with a multi-use space for socials, meetings and activities.
Phase Two: Developing a Social Space
We regularly consult our members, whose needs fed into the first phase of development, and are currently conducting a review into work at The Sanctuary and related provision in the city. This is being co-ordinated by Mike Fitter of Cohesion Sheffield, with a team of researchers drawn from the migrant community. This consultation was completed at the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, our architect has drawn up plans to finish developing the space in the basement and we welcome financial contributions for this—please see our donations page for how you can help.
The building is managed by City of Sanctuary Sheffield (COSS), 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, Sheffield City Council, ASSIST, asylum seekers and refugees.
It is staffed by COSS staff and volunteers.
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 donations page.