Following two well-attended public meetings, a group of committed people from Lichfield, Burntwood and district gathered in September 2019 for a workshop led by Warren Bardsley and Cathy Wood, with the aim of forming a group affiliated to City of Sanctuary UK.

Those present signed a declaration:

City of Sanctuary contributes to building an ever broader social movement to ensure that all people seeking sanctuary within the UK are made welcome in our countries and that the aspirations of the Birmingham Declaration become a reality. The Birmingham Declaration was launched at the first Sanctuary Summit in 2014 and has since been endorsed by more than 320 organisations. The core principles in the Declaration, as recorded in the charter, are:

1. All asylum seekers, refugees and migrants should be treated with dignity and respect.

2. A fair and effective process to decide whether people need protection should be in place.  

3. No one should be locked up indefinitely.

4. No one should be left sick or destitute in our society.

5. We should welcome the stranger and help them to integrate.

The group then nominated a steering group to be chaired by Warren Bardsley, and an action group to be convened by the secretary, Nigel Gann. Discussions were held over the following months to clarify the distinctive mission to which Lichfield City of Sanctuary would commit itself. The two groups include representatives of refugee support groups, local authorities, charities, churches and voluntary organisations.

Between December and the lockdown in early March, members of the action group visited 17 organisations in Lichfield and District, including councils, Churches Together, schools and colleges, voluntary organisations and business representatives. All the visits received positive responses, while organisations like the Lichfield Garrick Theatre and the Hub at St Mary’s showed particular enthusiasm about working with us.

The group exists to bring together, support and assist organisations and individuals working with newcomers in the district, with specific focus on those vulnerable through immigration, homelessness, poverty and other challenges.

Our draft vision statement reads:

To offer a vision of Lichfield as an open-hearted place where everyone, and especially the vulnerable and those seeking sanctuary, is treated with welcome, respect and understanding.

In 2020/21, we intend

To develop welcome as part of our Lichfield culture

To help organisations to be proactive in reaching out

To counter the economic arguments about migration and focus on the humane arguments

To recognise that the world is becoming an increasingly hostile environment to the poor, the displaced and the otherwise vulnerable

That refugees and asylum seekers, whether from other countries or elsewhere in the UK, are the focus of our work and, where and as much as possible, they should be involved in the leadership of it

That refugees and asylum seekers, where they want, are absorbed into the community, and that they are able to engage in and impact on community activities

To bring together groups that work with the vulnerable, enabling them to be even more effective

Our tasks are likely to include supporting Refugee Aid; encouraging identification of refugees for Lichfield in accordance with LDC/SCC offers/policies; raising awareness of refugeeism/asylum seeking in Lichfield and beyond; broadening the work of groups and organisations in Lichfield and district to include displaced people; developing stories about vulnerable people in Lichfield and district; supporting organisations in developing diversity and inclusiveness in their working fields; developing events referencing a wide range of people; publicising successful diverse and inclusive initiatives in the area; and challenging representations of Lichfield as being entirely, or substantially, white, middle-class and affluent.

We look forward to meeting with as many organisations, groups and individuals as possible to explain and develop our mission, and to recruiting supporters to our cause.

Lichfield City of Sanctuary is now part of a national movement working to make the UK a welcoming place of safety for all.

You will be hearing from us soon! Meanwhile, visit our website: http://lichfield.cityofsanctuary.org

Follow us on Twitter: @LichfieldCoS

Email us at nigelgann@lichfield.cityofsanctuary.org


Nigel Gann

15th May 2020


Page last updated: 15th May 2020 9:17 AM