ANNUAL REVIEW  for the period 17 May 2017  16 May 2018                                                                                                            


This has been another busy and productive year for Bradford City of Sanctuary (BCoS). We continue however to witness the stark contrast between the very negative impacts on those we seek to represent of the so-called ‘hostile environment’, and the extraordinary range of ways in which local individuals, communities and organisations respond with generosity, compassion and creativity.

It has been a great encouragement, after many years of relying on over-stretched volunteer effort, to have been able to appoint a part time Coordinator to take over and develop our core administration and development work. Sarli Nana brings with him a wealth of personal and professional experience.

On a sadder note, Mary Blacka, who has single-handedly developed our Sanctuary in Schools project over the past six years, reduced her hours in January in preparation for retirement at the end of August. She will be hugely missed.


To date seven schools have achieved the Schools of Sanctuary (SoS) award. As pressures on schools – and school staff – become even greater however, it is becoming increasingly hard to engage them in SoS. Although the ideas behind SoS are understood, valued and appreciated, most staff struggle to find time to work on evidence portfolios.

One school, Horton Park Primary, obtained the SoS award in Refugee Week 2017. Horton Park’s portfolio was different from most, as it was arranged by year group, rather than by the three SoS tasks. This meant that it was clear to see how children’s understanding of the issues increased and deepened as they made their way though primary school. There are unlikely to be any SoS awards in June 2018. Two schools have expressed the intention to work towards awards in 2019 and others are still intending to work on portfolios when time permits.

A joint initiative at Bradford Christian School with Maggie Lolashvili, Volunteering Coordinator at Abigail Housing, has been planned and will be delivered in May and June 2018. This involves awareness raising around refugee/asylum issues with a group of students, culminating in an event organised by the students at which they in turn attempt more awareness raising. It has taken since October 2017 to find a school which is happy to host this small project.

There has been close liaison, throughout the year, with Abigail Roach, Youth Education Co-ordinator for West Yorkshire for British Red Cross, who delivers awareness raising sessions in schools.

SoS Regional developments

There is concern across the region at the ability of Cities/Towns etc of Sanctuary to manage Schools of Sanctuary projects within their areas. I was one of a small team which drew up proposals for a region-wide project to employ a regional co-ordinator, to support local groups and to strengthen the rigour of the SoS award. These proposals have the support of national City of Sanctuary.

SoS further afield

Although engagement with schools locally has been slow, I have helped successfully establish SoS in Ripon and there are now plans for this to be extended through a chain of academies across Yorkshire and the North East. This followed a request from John Mellor, national City of Sanctuary trustee, to help with the SoS award in two schools in Ripon – Outwood Primary Academy Greystone and the Ripon Cathedral C of E Primary School. In the autumn term, two visits were made to Greystone, the last one being to assess the SoS portfolio. One visit was made to the Cathedral School.  A second visit in February 2018 was cancelled, because the school wanted to defer work on the award until 2018/19. Despite this, the work in Ripon was successful, as local CoS members, one of whom participated in the Greystone meetings, now have the confidence to run the SoS award themselves.

Greystone is part of the Outwood Academy chain, which has twenty six schools from Stockton-in-Tees to Scunthorpe. Outwood has made a commitment to introduce SoS to all its schools. Following up on this commitment, a visit was made to Outwood Primary Academy Ledger Lane, Wakefield, with Brian Hamill, Wakefield CoS in December.

Workshop at Regional Conference + Police + Catholic Chaplains

In October I joint led workshops on SoS and Universities of Sanctuary at the Regional CoS conference, in Wakefield. The major findings from the workshops were:

  • The need to work in rural and semi-rural schools
  • The importance of devising ways to involve schools in SoS, other than just working for the award
  • The institutional muddle around the SoS award, which is described as a national award but administered locally
  • The potential tensions between the flexibility and the rigour of the SoS award.

In addition, I have given talks about the work of SoS to West Yorkshire Police and Catholic Chaplains in Schools, both of which were very well received with commitments to further engagement with SoS.

Refugee Week

I chaired the 2017 Planning Group and am a key member of this year’s group. Through my agency, local schools were heavily involved in Refugee Week 2017.  At the Launch, the two MCs were young people from Carlton Bolling College and Grange Technology College. These two schools also provided a powerful short drama. The signing song by Year 3 from St Cuthbert & the First Martyrs’ Catholic Primary School worked its usual magic.

The Refugee Week art exhibition included work from four schools – Grange Technology College, Horton Grange Primary, Horton Park Primary and St Bede’s & St Joseph’s Catholic College.

Other work

I was part of the small team that successfully recruited and then inducted Sarli Nana, the part time BCoS Coordinator who took up post in November. Since then there has been excellent collaboration with Sarli, including initial plans for a Volunteering Preparation Project to encourage and support asylum seekers and refugees into employment. Together we researched hot desking options to enable us to have a work base in the city. This has now been achieved at Assembly Bradford and is working well – so much so that the group’s monthly meetings are now held there.

I contributed significantly to the BCoS Away Day in September where the Coordinator role description was finalised and priorities set. In addition to producing a report from this, I have continued to regularly minute the group’s monthly meetings.


At the time of writing the 2017 Annual Review, the funding of the SoS project beyond August was uncertain. Sufficient funding was later obtained from the Evan Cornish Foundation and – via the City Council – the Controlling Migration Fund (CMF), to run the project for the whole of the 2017/18 academic year. The CMF money will also be available to part-fund 2018/19. Efforts are afoot to obtain more grant funding to add to this.

Retirement / Evaluation of SoS

Following an agreed reduction in my weekly hours from 1st January from twenty to fifteen, I announced my intention to retire at the end of August 2018.  As part of the preparation for the appointment of a successor, it was decided to carry out a formal evaluation of the project. This is shortly to begin.

Mary Blacka,

Schools of Sanctuary Development Worker



I was appointed BCoS Coordinator in November 2017 and have just successfully completed my six months probationary period. The role of the Coordinator is mainly to be the initial point of contact for BCoS, responding to enquires and working with the team to create awareness, building practical support for refugees and asylum seekers across Bradford.

Setting up systems

Given that it is the first time BCoS has employed a Coordinator, it was necessary to set up systems and equipment to enable the role to be performed. A hot desk space has been secured at Assembly Bradford in BD1 which is working well for myself and Mary Blacka, as well as for our monthly meetings.

Engagement with stakeholders

In addition to refugee sector partners, I continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders. Participating in November’s annual Peace Fair enabled us to engage with the many visitors and we gained several new supporters.

I take part in key forums and refugee networks such as the ASRROG refugee multi-agency group, Volunteer Managers Forum, Bradford Integration Partnership, etc. We also hold a six monthly update meeting with Ian Day, Bradford Council’s Assistant Director Neighbourhood and Customer Services. This enables us to raise strategic issues – most recently barriers to employment for refugees. As a result we are now working with RETAS’ 28 Day Transition Project and the Council’s newly appointed Refugee Employment Advisor to address this issue.

This year Bradford University was recognised as University of Sanctuary following a number of years of very positive work – see I attend the University’s Sanctuary Working Group.

I also engage with the wider Sanctuary Movement and attended the Wakefield CoS AGM and, very recently, the National CoS of Conference in Newcastle.

Media outreach

I have given interviews in BCB and Sunrise Radio and am seeking to develop our long established good relationship with the Telegraph & Argus newspaper. I also respond to media queries on asylum and refugee issues – for example, the Huffington Post got in touch with us to obtain contacts for the Rohingya communities. Following a conversation with BBC Look North we anticipate good coverage of Bradford’s Refugee Week.

In February I delivered a webinar to Barcelona University Students in collaboration with another University in Germany on the socio-economic integration of refugees. They were particularly interested in the Bradford University of Sanctuary.

I also delivered a presentation to social work students at Bradford University raising awareness on the work of BCoS and asylum and refugee issues.

Website and social media

In the past twelve months our website has received nearly 3000 visits and 6,500 page views – our regularly updated ‘Local Resources’ and ‘Action Ideas’ (volunteering opportunities) lists are particularly popular. Our Facebook and Twitter pages, through which I publicise our activities, now have over 1,000 followers.

I produced our first quarterly newsletter which has gone out to our supporters and partners and been well received – see:

I also send out targeted information to our Supporters emailing list of about 300 members and 46 from local agencies. In addition BCoS daily responds to requests for information, offers from people wishing to get involved in volunteering (who we then put in touch with local frontline agencies), requests to promote events and new services, requests from national and local media and requests for academic research participants

Sarli Nana,

BCos Coordinator


 Bradford University of Sanctuary

As mentioned in Sarli’s report above, it was a great joy to be able to present one of the UK’s first University of Sanctuary awards to Dr Mel Cooper at the university’s excellent Sanctuary Supper on 15th March. Roger Cowell from BCoS was part of the small group that appraised their application. The work that Mel and her colleagues are doing is a model of the ‘Learn, Embed, Share’ principles on which Sanctuary Awards are based.

 Bradford District Crisis Fund 

It has been wonderful to see the development work that we did last year – initiated by the late and much missed John Launder – come to fruition, as Bevan Healthcare have taken on the task of administering the Crisis Fund. To date it has given out over £2000 in emergency grants to asylum seekers and refugees in critical need. The fund will need regular topping up however, so please contact us if you are able to support this vital resource.

Faiths in Action event 15thJuly 2017

More two years of regular meetings with leaders of the city’s largest faith communities bore fruit when we collaborated to organise this event, aimed at raising awareness among and generating expressions of support from their members. We were delighted to welcome 150 attendees who heard first hand testimony from some who have sought sanctuary in the UK, presentations from key local support projects, as well as speeches from Naz Shah MP and faith leaders. More than a dozen projects showcased their work with displays. We were indebted to the Faith Centre for excellent food and use of their facilities.

 Other Engagement

  • It has been very good to support Bradford Refugee Forum, who we helped to become re-established last year, in obtaining funding via Bradford Council.
  • Likewise, it has been a tremendous encouragement to be able to work with RETAS to bring to Bradford their long-needed 28 Day Transition Project. The project helps those newly granted refugee status to transition successfully from living as asylum seekers in Home Office accommodation, to living independently and integrating successfully into local communities.
  • We continue to attend and contribute to the quarterly multi-agency Asylum Seekers and Recent Refugees Operations Group facilitated by the Council.
  • With our colleagues from the Refugee Forum, we have contributed to Bradford Council’s Anti Poverty Co-ordination Strategy, ensuring that the needs of asylum seekers and refugees are represented.
  • Following the great news that Bradford District has agreed to become one of the government’s trial Integration Areas, we have been working with Chapel Street Studios to produce a report which will contribute to the development of the city’s Integration Strategy, identifying key strengths, weaknesses and development needs in the integration of asylum seekers and refugees in the city.


As always, we gave a number of talks during the year and provided displays at various events, including:

  • The Refugee Week Launch
  • The International Refugee Week Festival in June at Bradford University
  • Bradford’s annual and always wonderful Peace Fair in November
  • An event by Welfare Reform Impact Bradford (WRIB), a faith-led network.


We are very grateful for the support of the following grant funders for their support of our work over the past year: The Tudor Trust, The Brelms Trust, Allen Lane Foundation, Bradford Council (Controlling Migration Fund) and Evan Cornish Foundation, as well as a number of generous individual donations. The most touching was a cheque soon after Christmas from the 10-year-old son of a supporter, who ran a canal-side stall on New Year’s Day to raise funds for BCoS, as part of a school project!

We continue to be very grateful to Touchstone Methodist Centre for their invaluable goodwill and support-in-kind.


The most pressing need at the time of writing is to complete the evaluation of the Schools of Sanctuary project so that we are better able to plan the future shape of project following Mary’s retirement.

We are developing plans for a Volunteering Preparation Project to help better prepare and equip asylum seekers and refugees to get involved in volunteering. Most asylum seekers are not allowed to work and many refugees find it hard to obtain paid employment. This means that they are frequently socially isolated and denied a role in civil society. Volunteering can have great benefits, including spending time in purposeful activity, learning new skills and making new friends and acquaintances. Volunteering with organisations which are not part of the asylum / refugee sector is especially beneficial, as it involves interaction with different groups of people from the settled local community, promoting mutual understanding and community cohesion. Frequently, volunteering for groups/organisations outside the sector is a progression for volunteers towards eventual employment.

October sees our 10th anniversary and so we will be making plans to celebrate all that has been achieved since our launch!

TRUSTEES for the year:

Chair: Will Sutcliffe

Treasurer: Ian McIver

Revd Ben Ayesu

Revd Joe Batt

Christy Bischoff

Victoria Elahi

Dr Ala Sirriyeh

I am delighted to report that three new trustees have recently been appointed: Kay Holden, Roger Cowell and Mandy Oates. Each brings many relevant skills and considerable experience to the group. Dr Ala Sirriyeh moved away from Bradford some time ago and has expressed her wish to stand down at this year’s AGM. We have greatly appreciated all that she has contributed over the past six years.

A number of others have regularly attended our monthly meetings and make very significant contributions to our work.

 Will Sutcliffe,


 May 2018

File Attachments:

File Attachment Size
2013 Annual Report 115.5 KB
2012 Annual Report 138 KB
2011 Annual Report 107 KB
2010 Annual Report 109.5 KB

2015 Annual Report 5.15 – 2