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Summer Digest 2017

Summer at Preston City of Sanctuary has been busy, so welcome to reading all about it in our Summer Newsletter!

We all feel proud of how welcoming and hospitable Preston is for asylum seekers and refugees!

Red Cross and Preston City of Sanctuary visit Preston’s first school seeking School of Sanctuary status

In May this year, Red Cross were accompanied by Preston City of Sanctuary and two refugees to meet schoolchildren at city-centre located English Martyrs Primary School. Children had prepared questions to ask our sanctuary seekers. Parents and staff were present at the morning assembly where Red Cross myth-busting leaflets were handed out. EAL coordincator Clare Prodger led the assembly which was about what it means to be a refugee. This was the first step in the school being recognised as a School of Sanctuary. You can find out more if you click on this link:

‘The Island of Altogether’ Film and Discussion Night

In the middle of May this year, The Continental pub kindly offered their venue space to showcase Marieke and Philip van der Velden’s documentary to help volunteers who work with asylum seekers and refugees understand more about their journeys from war-inflicted countries to Europe. 

Asylum seekers’ stories were read out by Jen and Dunia of Preston City of Sanctuary.

Screening on Tuesday 23rd May 2017

Asylum seeker and Dutch holidaymaker meeting on the island of Lesbos, Greece

The evening ended with an informal open-discussion including Q and A session with some of Preston’s refugees. This enabled volunteers, and film viewers to have a deeper insight into leaving ones’ home behind in times of war.

Thanks to the Continental’s Jackie Jones for being so accommodating and technician Grant Cronin, who gave up his birthday evening to help with sound, lighting, photography and arranging of furniture.

Asylum Matters training

All members of interest groups were invited to attend training given by Estelle Worthington in June this year. It was an informative evening. The event focussed on issues faced by asylum seekers from arrival to permanent settlement in the UK including

  • the UK asylum process, Home Office decision making, and the transition to refugee status or other forms of protection
  • the issues facing refused asylum seekers, including the dispersal programme housing and support for asylum seekers
  • the issues facing new refugees, including housing and benefit issues
  • ways that those of us supporting them can best offer help
  • how to campaign…/ educate .. for greater public awareness and sympathy

If you were not able to attend, but would still like this information, please click here:

North West Regional Meeting Meal

On Wednesday 19th July, members of City of Sanctuary North West were invited to Preston’s mediterranean / middle-eastern restaurant Jaffa for an informal meal where we discussed how best to share good practice of our City of Sanctuaries. It was Dunia, Preston City of Sanctuary’s last meeting as she moves to a new job in Leeds. Members from Blackburn with Darwen City of Sanctuary attended and discussed how we can best involve schools in City of Sanctuary.

‘Sanctuary’ Lancashire Asylum and Refugee Conference

Organised by a group of local authorities, charities, NGOs, community and faith groups, Lancashire’s first asylum and refugee conference was designed to help and support local organisations explore how they could better welcome and advise refugees and asylum seekers. Held at Preston’s Hindu Gujurat Society and Community Centre, the event drew crowds of 250 participants.

Practical workshops were led by professionals on a range of topics, including:

  • Increasing understanding of refugees in schools
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Building community support for refugees
  • Employability
  • Housing for asylum seekers and refugees
  • The asylum claim process
  • Faith and Culture
  • Setting up English and ESOL classes


Bob runs on Great North Run and raises £310 for Preston City of Sanctuary

On the 28th May, our volunteer Bob Helm represented Preston City of Sanctuary at the Great Manchester Run. Bob is part of a group ‘Talk English’, formed in early 2016, who meet once a week to teach English to asylum seekers and refugees in a friendly, informal and welcoming environment at St Cuthbert’s Church in Fulwood.
Thank you for all people who donated and shared this campaign with their networks. Bob completed the run on Sunday 28th May in 1hr 57m and raised £310 for Preston City of Sanctuary. If you would like to donate further, please click on the following link:

Bob completes race in under two hours


Summer School for Refugee Families

July saw the beginning of Hello Preston! Summer School. Hello Preston! is an organisation to welcome and provide hospitality to help refugee families integrate.

Refugee families were invited to attend an 18-hour family learning project. As Preston College was closed during the summer and it was agreed that adults still need to improve English communication skills to integrate, Lancashire County Council and Preston City Council funded this great opportunity.

University of Central Lancashire donated unused desks and chairs. Grammar classes were taught by a CELTA-qualified teacher in the mornings, followed by a community lunch and contextual English classes in the afternoon. These included skills about booking an appointment, asking for directions and visiting a chemist.

Telling stories in the Small World

Looking at properties of materials whilst making ‘slime’ in science experiments

Making playdough food for the kitchen table








A summer school was led by a highly skilled-early years practitioner for two dozen children, mostly below the age of six. On sunny days, children walked to Moor Park’s playground. Hello Preston! funded a trip to the theatre where they watched The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Language and communication skills developed at a faster rate than we had anticipated. Volunteers dropped in a brought their children who enjoyed making friends. Highlights of the summer school were making slime and designing a miniature garden to decorate the venue.

Good teamwork and play skills were built on during the summer school


Computer skills were taught at the beginning of a research project for building a miniature garden