ANNUAL REVIEW for the period 12.6.19 – 10.6.20
FROM THE CHAIR …
Writing this in the midst of the trauma and disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis when, like so many others, our work has been significantly impacted, it would be easy to forget many of the things that made the past 12 months so positive for us as a group.
Firstly, following the departure in November of our Coordinator Sarli Nana as he moved on to develop his work with Migrants Organise and other inspiring initiatives, we were delighted to appoint Mike Auger who took up post just before Christmas. Mike has already brought so much to our work as you can read in his report below. I had looked forward to taking advantage of his creative design skills for this report but sadly, we have recently needed to furlough both him and Sarah Cartin, our Schools worker, due to the difficulties for each in carrying out their roles during the present lockdown.
Mike’s communication skills have been greatly appreciated elsewhere however, with regular newsletters, social media posts and a revamp of our website.
Under Sarah’s energetic leadership, the Schools of Sanctuary (SoS) project has really gathered pace over the year, with significantly increased engagement from local schools (and other educational establishments) as well as recognition beyond the city. Her report below provides more detail. It is a great shame that, along with other Refugee Week 2020 activities, the planned new Arts Trail has had to be cancelled.
Exciting initiatives this year have included the launch of the ‘Free Things to do in Bradford’ resource, new Streams of Sanctuary in process, planning for the relaunch of the Help into Volunteering project, and the developing Welcome to Bradford project (see below). Whilst we wait for the latter, we ensure the interim site that we developed with Bradford Council is regularly updated.
Alongside all of the above, our regular work continues as we daily circulate relevant information to the local network of asylum support agencies, respond to requests for information both locally and nationally, signpost, promote campaigns focusing on issues facing sanctuary seekers, and engage with the local media. We love taking our message out ‘in person’ and have given several talks during the year and held displays at events, including the ever-wonderful Bradford Peace Fair in November.
We continue to advocate on behalf of sanctuary seekers with Bradford Council and key local service providers – not least the Home Office asylum accommodation provider. Our engagement with the Council over many years has been recognised by the national CoS movement as an example of good practice and we are delighted that Bradford is expressing interest in joining the new national CoS Local Authorities Network.
Bread and Roses’ Café and Co-Working space has been greatly appreciated again this year, both for hot-desking by Mike and Sarah and as a relaxed and comfortable venue for our monthly meetings. Our thanks once again too to Touchstone Methodist Centre for their invaluable goodwill.
SCHOOLS OF SANCTUARY (SoS) REPORT
It’s been another interesting year for the Schools of Sanctuary project!
This time last year, plans were underway for Refugee Week, where in June schools came together to launch the week with a vibrant and noisy parade around Centenary Square, with the Lord Mayor Doreen Lee and a wonderful celebratory launch of the SoS open arts exhibition at the Capital of Cycling. Many thanks to Mary Blacka and Deborah Mullins for all their work in bringing the exhibition together.
Lapage Primary school received their Schools of Sanctuary award, and their Year 6 class were invited for a very prestigious tea and orange juice celebration with the Lord Mayor in her private chambers.
Following Refugee Week, I developed and implemented a strategic plan to begin to develop the project across schools in Bradford. Much of this work focused on streamlining the application process for schools applying for the award by working with them to audit and plan for the award process, suited to the structures of their school. This approach ensures that the benefits of the award are recognised as a whole school approach and means that all work is relevant and useful to each individual school. This also linked with the national Schools of Sanctuary stream, where work has been underway all year to review the school resource pack materials and benchmark the award application process.
The impact of this progress was beginning to be recognised locally, with a significant increase in the number of schools engaged in the project. This included a nursery and a college, as well as primary and secondary schools across all parts of the Bradford District. The Teacher’s Advisory Group and SoS newsletter were both also launched and will continue to be developed to be essential tools for Schools of Sanctuary teachers and leaders.
Sadly, at the time of writing this report, schools remain closed due to COVID-19 and the project is paused. The exciting array of events for Refugee Week 2020 have largely been cancelled and the Schools of Sanctuary conference and awards ceremony at the University of Bradford will now be rescheduled for another time. The great news however is that the planned This is Me collaborative photography project between the University of Bradford and local schools has been able to go ahead online. The exhibition explores issues of representation in marginalised communities and is well worth a visit.
Refugee Week Art Exhibition launch
Whilst the current situation is so worrying and uncertain, the commitment from schools and groups to make provision for and provide support for sanctuary seeking families has been phenomenal. School leaders, teachers, and pastoral and administration teams in schools throughout the city have created systems of support and care, provided resources and supported families throughout the crisis. They have gone above and beyond and represent so much of what it means for Bradford to be a City of Sanctuary. We look forward to a point at which we all come back together to share stories, art and music and celebrate all our schools of sanctuary.
Finally, a big thank you to all our schools, supporters, partners and friendly venues in Bradford. Your support is fantastic!
Any education professionals who are interested in finding out more about the Schools of Sanctuary work are warmly invited to get in touch via the website, or by emailing me at [email protected]
Schools of Sanctuary Project Coordinator
I began in the Coordinator role in mid-December 2019 and have thoroughly enjoyed the first three months working alongside a fantastic team, and in such a vibrant and supportive City. December and January offered a brilliant opportunity for me to meet with many local organisations, to visit services and buildings (many for the first time) and gain a better understanding of the best ways of work together to create a welcoming environment.
STREAMS OF SANCTUARY
Bradford Interchange – Station of Sanctuary?
Following the inspiring example of our friends in Bolton, in February, I met with representatives from Bradford Interchange who were very interested and keen to pursue Station of Sanctuary status. The Interchange is a huge building, and the potential for transforming some of the empty spaces there is really exciting. Part of the Station of Sanctuary scheme could include offering free tickets for people to take day trips out, which would be fantastic. Despite the recent challenges of flooding, and of course COVID-19, they are still keen to continue this conversation as soon as possible.
Oxfam – Shop of Sanctuary
Likewise, Oxfam on Darley street are continuing to develop their application to become Bradford’s first ‘Shop of Sanctuary’, despite being closed for the foreseeable. The Shops of Sanctuary stream is a fantastic way for customers to learn more about the movement, for the staff and volunteers to gain training and understanding about some of the key issues facing refugees and asylum seekers, but also act as another way to support refugees and asylum seekers into volunteering opportunities. We are keen to identify others.
HELP INTO VOLUNTEERING
After an initial trial period and a lot of valuable learning over 2019, we are proposing a new approach to the Help into Volunteering program, originally devised by Sarli Nana. This will be a training and education program delivered by Bradford City of Sanctuary across the district. With support and input from The Volunteer Centre Bradford, two distinctive training sessions will be created:
- The Volunteer Course
Training delivered for Refugees and Asylum Seekers to understand what is involved in volunteering, their rights as volunteers and to support them into volunteering roles in Bradford.
- The Host Course
Training for organisations, charities, and businesses to help prepare them to receive refugees and asylum seekers as volunteers.
We envisage this project would be a valuable offer to the city and will continue our planning as soon as COVID-19 permits.
Barriers and Bridges to Healthcare
Our highly successful September meeting was themed around barriers and bridges to accessing healthcare for refugees and asylum seekers. The event consisted of presentations, interactive discussions and information on the issues and possible solutions. Barriers identified included: language, lack of knowledge or information, misinformation, cultural issues, affordability, trust and fear. Solutions identified were improving awareness, campaigning, reporting of incidents. sharing knowledge, providing information, access to interpreters, HC2 Certificate (entitles the holder to help with NHS treatment and prescriptions) etc.
We are very grateful to BCoS trustee Avril Barker for all her work in preparing the presentation which has been successfully used by other local agencies since.
Free Things to do In Bradford
In February we launched our paper and online booklet, providing details of over 100 fantastic free things across the city that are available to refugees, asylum seekers and the wider community. This was a huge step in our mission to provide simple, accessible information to those who need it most. A very big thank you goes to trustee Mandy Hall for a huge amount of hard work gathering the information, and also to Ben McKenna of Solidaritech who designed the map. We are currently in conversations about the next stage of development but for now, you can see the online version here.
Launch of Free Things to do in Bradford
Our website has seen some significant changes over the past few months. After an initial visual update in line with the national theme, we were then able to tidy up the menu, update information and add some extra pages such as our COVID-19 response and Meet the Team pages. We’re also able to add an easy DONATE button which has already seen a number of gifts from the public. As ever, you can see the latest from our website here.
REGIONAL CoS MEETING
In February I attended the regional meeting in Leeds University. It was a great day with various speakers, workshops and conversations all geared towards creating a sense of connection and shared learning. It was very inspirational to feel part of a larger movement and in a room with like-minded people. I brought along a small installation asking people about the importance of ‘home’, leading to some very honest and interesting answers. I also co-led a discussion around working with local agencies, and the potential of collaboration with local venues such as theatres. We spoke a lot about the importance of hope which has inspired me to consider this as a theme for a future Bradford City of Sanctuary event.
WELCOME TO BRADFORD
It is now a year since Bradford City of Sanctuary, along with Refugee Action, Solidaritech and Enable 2, drew up the detailed plan of action for a new ‘Welcome to Bradford’ website. Both are Bradford-based Community Interest Companies (repurposing donated technology for sanctuary seekers, and providing interpreting and translation services, respectively). At present there is no singular repository of information for people new to Bradford. The site will help people to understand their new home and how to access services. It aims to welcome people warmly, help them find their feet and feel encouraged to thrive.
In January 2020, we learned that our funding bid to Bradford Council’s Stronger Communities Innovations Fund had been successful, to the tune of £15,000, and we have been able to make a start. Ben McKenna of Solidaritech, who developed the successful New to Leeds site two years ago, is leading the way. We are delighted to report that the development and construction of the website is now well underway.
The main intended users of the site are new migrants themselves, so the site needs to be very accessible as regards language and literacy, with high quality visuals and graphics. And it needs to be easy to use on a mobile phone. It will provide maps and descriptions of local services and community groups and be readily translated into all the main languages currently spoken in Bradford’s recent and established migrant communities.
The site is being co-produced with a wide range of stakeholders, particularly with recent migrants in ‘experts by experience’ (EBE) groups. We are also working in consultation with the Local Authority and other organisations which provide support.
The ’Welcome to Bradford’ working group’s original plans for consultation sessions have had to be modified in the light of COVID-19 lockdown. However, rather than delaying the whole process, consultations with EBE’s have been taking place through May, and a clear steer as to content and design is emerging. It has also been agreed to open an interim site with information which is COVID -relevant. Throughout lockdown, new migrants continue to arrive in the city and there is clearly a need for up-to-date information and signposting.
We have plans for further consultation workshops, community photography work, trial and feedback sessions to be held in the autumn. We intend to launch the ‘Welcome to Bradford’ website by the end of the year and have factored in a mechanism for keeping the site regularly maintained and updated. The website is the first of a two-part plan. To follow is a Welcome to Bradford live programme of guidance, activities and welcome sessions in collaboration with Bradford Council.
Mandy Oates – Trustee
We are very grateful to the following grant funders for their support of our work over the past year: Big Lottery Awards for All; Scurrah Wainwright Charity; The Brelms Trust, Allen Lane Foundation and Bradford Council (Controlling Migration Fund), as well as an increasing number of generous individual donations.
TRUSTEES for the year
- Chair: Will Sutcliffe from 2008
- Treasurer: Phil Lawler since 25.3.19
- Secretary: Avril Barker – since 15.5.19
- Roger Cowell – since 18.04.2018
- Kay Holden – since 18.04.2018
- Mandy Oates – since 18.04.2018
- Ian McIver – since 15.05.2013
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