“At their full Council meeting on 28th January, Southwark councillors unanimously declared Southwark a Borough of Sanctuary. We only found out at short notice that the Council were going to vote on this – it was a surprising development to those of us who have been working towards making Southwark a place of sanctuary. Our plan had been to start by building awareness and grassroots support for the idea, making it led by the community, rather than the council, and to only seek to pass a motion in the council when it had some meaningful commitments attached to it.
“Although we suggested the Council postpone voting on becoming a Sanctuary borough until they had discussed the proposal with us and other refugee and migrant support organisations they decided to go ahead. However the Council agreed to our deputation’s request that they meet with us in the near future to draw up an action plan of practical measures that would make a Borough of Sanctuary a reality.
“The Council’s decision is welcome but we felt it was essential that our Borough of Sanctuary group should meet first to talk about this development before discussing any future plans with the Council. The Deputy Council Leader, Councillor Rebecca Lury, has agreed to meet us fairly soon after our next meeting – we haven’t set a date yet.
“The next Borough of Sanctuary meeting will be on Wednesday 26th February, 6.30pm, Southwark Refugee Communities Forum (SRCF) office, St Giles Centre, 81 Camberwell Church St, SE5 8RB.The meeting is open to everyone – please come along if you would like to find out more about our work and how you can help.
“If you are coming to the meeting on 26th February can you be thinking of the sort of practical stepswe would want the Council to take? We will also be discussing our ongoing work including the Listening Exercise, building up support from the local community, working with schools, arts and creative sector organisations etc, and International Anti-Racism Day on March 21st.
Nationally City of Sanctuary is consulting local groups on working with local authorities. Obviously this is now very relevant for us – if you have time could you have a look at this document which outlines general proposals for working with councils.
Southwark Borough of Sanctuary.