It is less than a year since the first meeting at the Methodist Mission to see if there was enough support to set up Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary. We have done a great deal in that time. We have a very good steering group, with people bringing their skills and enthusiasm and hard work together to make people in Huddersfield more aware of sanctuary seekers and refugees in our communities. There are people who are used to working with the media, planning events, looking after the money, working with sanctuary seekers. From a personal point of view meeting and becoming friends with people seeking sanctuary has made a huge difference to how I see my own life as I get to know more about theirs. (read more by clicking on the title above)

Our journey started with the Interfaith Council and the Quaker Meeting supporting the idea of a Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary. We are very grateful for that continued support.

We have currently have 29 groups signed up, not all faith groups, there is also sports clubs, music groups, a toddler group plus groups that already support refugees and sanctuary seekers. We have Halifax Canoe Club offering canoe lessons for sanctuary seekers,The Lorna Young Foundation which is a fair trade charity bringing coffee via Ethiopian refugees in Manchester to Meltham. What is nice is that of those groups the next events have been their ideas- Bar 1;22 the music night, the Methodist conversation cafe event, Quakers are planning an afternoon event on October 31st, the interfaith picnic incorporated a sanctuary tent and tales of sanctuary.

Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary gratefully acknowledges financial support from Kirklees Council, Arts Council Engladn, Huddersfield Quakers and many individual donations. We have also been very lucky to have Lois Iredale designing our posters and flyers for the launch and the music event. It does make a difference having a well designed vibrant poster.

Our aim continues to be to grow our support from organisations on the ground to try to bring about a culture in which we can challenge people s ideas about sanctuary seekers because we do need to change their views of most people from hostility to hospitality from wariness to welcome.

We have a vision and we need to encourage more groups to be open, to explore, to find out about sanctuary seekers and refugees in our community, people who have an enormous amount to offer.

The steering group has been an open group, we are pleased to have people who want to work alongside – there is such a lot to do, we are very happy to have new members of the steering group.

Plans for the future :A number of young people who came to the launch were moved and inspired and we hope that we may be able to bring some young people together to consider what they might do for our Town of Sanctuary. We have more events coming up but we continue to work on gathering groups in and spreading out the ripples of sanctuary and welcome.

The City of Sanctuary movement began in Sheffield with Craig Barnett and Inderjit Bhogal, it is now a significant national movement with more cities but also towns, regions, a borough and even universities of sanctuary. We have a great deal to do yet.

October 2010