‘Huddersfield is an enriched community, a more vibrant, and a better place because of the sanctuary seekers and refugees who live here’said Bill Dennis manager of Kirklees Asylum Support Service at the Autumn Gathering and AGM of Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary, held on 8th October.

Opening the event, Councillor Eric Firth, Mayor of Kirklees said ‘I am really pleased to see how support has grown so rapidly for this positive new initiative in our town. Even though Huddersfield Town of Sanctuary was only launched in June last year it already has nearly 70 supporting organisations representing a real cross section of groups.’

Huddersfield is the first Town of Sanctuary in the UK, and the group is part of a national network of towns and cities who are encouraging a culture of welcome in our communities for people fleeing war and persecution.

‘This dynamic local movement is building on the long tradition in Huddersfield of welcoming, supporting and befriending people from different countries and backgrounds’ said James Bar Bowen, outgoing Chair of Town of Sanctuary, ‘We want people to feel safe and welcome in our town’.

Tiffy Allen national co-ordinator of the City of Sanctuary movement said, ’ Huddersfield is a dispersal point for refugees in the North of England. There are many myths about sanctuary seekers but the sanctuary movement aims to dispel some of these myths’.

Two co-chairs were elected at the AGM: Adam Strickson, writer and lecturer and Omid Hosseini, a sanctuary seeker from Iran.

Adam Strickson said ‘We celebrate the diverse community that is Huddersfield and the amazing work that is currently done by organisations supporting sanctuary seekers and refugees. It is great to hear about what is being done in our town to create a welcome by the many different organisations and cultures that make Huddersfield such a wonderful place to live in’.

A new organisation has been set up, it is Huddersfield Asylum Advice Service which offers legal advice to sanctuary seekers. Patrice Dlamini from HAAS commented ‘There is a need in Kirklees for advice services’.

Kate Smith from Womencentre and Tony Bowers from Huddersfield Asylum Seekers Support & Response also spoke at the event and were amongst the wide variety of groups represented