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Durham City of Sanctuary was formed in 2016 and part of the nationwide City of Sanctuary movement. Based in County Durham, we work to build opportunities for introductions and friendship between sanctuary seekers and local people, helping new arrivals to integrate into our communities. Our aim is to create a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

Through our support, we hope to encourage new arrivals to choose to remain in our region. We recognise the wide range of skills, knowledge and talents they possess, which we believe will enrich our communities and contribute to economic and social development.

Our activities include a befriending, hosting events and facilitating introductions; seeking work experience opportunities and network-building; raising awareness and giving voice to those who seek safety. We work with and signpost to other support services.

We believe the ‘sanctuary message’ of welcome and inclusion is needed in all spheres of society and are committed to helping schools, universities, health and maternity services, theatres and arts centres, faith centres, sports, communities, businesses and homes become ‘places of sanctuary’. A key element of these ‘streams of sanctuary’ relationships is awareness raising, telling the true stories of refugees to those who never hear them.

Our group is made up of long and short-term residents, refugees and citizens from around the world, with different life stories and experiences, but all committed to work together to challenge and offset the unfairness that refugees and asylum seekers experience and to help them feel at home in a new setting.

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