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Schools of Sanctuary at annual conference in Bradford

On the 20-21 of September Tetiana Murphy, SoS Project and Communications Manager, and Obianuju Ekedozie, SoS Waterford Ambassador were delighted to attend the City of Sanctuary annual conference in Bradford, UK. It was the first time in 3 years that the conference was held in person, and it was incredible.

The conference kicked off with a meet and greet on the evening of September 20. It was a lovely welcoming evening, where participants could enjoy sumptuous African food, network with each other and get ready to the conference next morning.

The theme of the conference was Inspiring Resilience. The last few years have been particularly tough for people seeking sanctuary and those who support them: the pandemic, increasingly hostile UK government policies, the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine are only some of the issues.

After so many setbacks, hurdles and tragedies – this day was about celebrating what gives us all resilience and keeps us going.

Our Bradford hosts did an amazing job of showcasing their work and how it affects sanctuary for refugees in Bradford. It was very interesting to learn that The Refugee Integration Forum in Bradford was set up by City of Sanctuary Bradford. There is also a strong working relationship between City of Sanctuary Bradford and Bradford City Council Bradford has pioneered several Streams of Sanctuary, such as Schools of Sanctuary, Sanctuary in Maternity and Sanctuary in Faith. Speakers included local Bradford Sanctuary-awarded institutions: Bradford Council of Sanctuary; Bradford Station of Sanctuary; Bradford College of Sanctuary; and Horton Community Garden of Sanctuary.

Other speakers included Dr Sabir Zazai (CEO of Scottish refugee Council and Afghan refugee), Inderjit Bhogal(founder of City of Sanctuary), people with lived experience of seeking sanctuary, community groups providing direct aid provision to new arrivals and campaigners from Asylum Matters, IMIX, Migration Yorkshire and the Mental Health Foundation.

It was a very inspirational and motivating conference, and our representatives Tetiana and Obianuju got lots of ideas and contacts to develop and strengthen the Sanctuary network in Ireland.

Obianuju Ekedozie, SoS Waterford Ambassador

Photo credit: City of Sanctuary UK