Working Together: Building a Sanctuary Alliance

Our Summit was always meant to be more than just one day in November. We are keen to use this coming together of people standing in solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees as the start of building a broader sanctuary alliance or movement. But what does that mean in practice? This workshop explores the ideas and energies of how we can build such a movement. Two initial speeches from the facilitators offering some initial ideas will open up into a broader discussion of how we can build on the energy around the summit in the run-up to the General Election and beyond.

working together

Notes from the ‘Working Together’ workshop:

  • Drop the word city – talk about sanctuary movement.
  • Get as many as possible to sign the Birmingham declaration – get councillors to sign up and candidates for election – get smaller organisations to sign it – bring it to the people
  • Have regional as well as national meetings
  • National weeks
  • Use “No one is illegal” as a slogan – add to the declaration
  • Extend support – relate to other movements e.g. the people on benefits.
  • Engage with media – get word across (instead of negative) /Challenge messages/prejudices in the media.
  • Local stories and media should also be used to change opinions.
  • Stop treating media and politicians as the enemy – help them understand – never experienced it. Build coalitions – even with people we don’t totally agree with.
  • Get journalists in touch with asylum seekers help them stop treating the media and politicians as the enemy help them to understand they have never experienced it.
  • Essential for local organisation to give effective welcome.
  • Project our national image.
  • Good communication between local groups and national campaigns – flexible between levels.
  • One-stop shop on-line website information.
  • One-stop shop on which newspapers etc should talk to – a directory of friendly journalists?
  • Humanise and include at grassroots – humanising our messages and people’s own experiences.
  • Private members bill with signatures to change legislation – use declaration.
  • Only voices in society that are heard are economic – need to break through and break silence at national level – Doing well at community level but need to talk in language they understand.
  • Need to be confident in local action being amplified at national level.
  • Target the middle layer – those without the time to volunteer a grass level or without power/ Cash in on the skills of middle classes e.g. academics.
  • Move out of just asylum seekers but other organisations e.g. housing employers seeking skills.
  • Propose alternative to detention/come up with solutions form alliances even if uneasy.
  • Viral actions – like the ice bucket. Help humanise the asylum seekers refugees to speak for themselves – they have the skills!..

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