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Camden City of Sanctuary Newsletter is here!

It’s official! The Camden City of Sanctuary group is up and running, and with it comes a brand new, shiny, monthly newsletter filled with news, events and volunteering opportunities, so that you don’t miss out on anything that we’re doing in the borough.

Thank you to everybody who attended February’s monthly meeting!

It was great to meet some of you, share ideas and to see all of your enthusiasm for making Camden City of Sanctuary a reality.

The wonderful Gareth has kindly written up minutes from the meeting which can be found here, but a quick overview of some of the key points discussed, our immediate plans for the future and updates on what we’ve already achieved so far can be found below:
The group has now been officially registered as a branch of City of Sanctuary!
We discussed the idea of introducing a formal structure with assigned roles to share the workload – this is not yet something that has been introduced but potentially a point for the next meeting.
Dan spoke about his experience of working with COS in Exeter, and clarified three main areas that C.O.S. works in: 1) Setting up/running our own projects 2) Supporting local businesses to set up and run their own projects and 3) Raising awareness and campaigning.
Issy who is a member of the Camden branch of the Citizen’s UK ‘Refugees Welcome’ campaign spoke about what they are already doing in the borough, trying to push the council to accept more asylum seekers. She shared several upcoming events that they are hosting (see events section below for details).
There was a general agreement that our first focus should be on setting up ESOL/Conversation Classes in the borough. Anneke and Amanda have been working on putting together a trial for this and if interested you should contact Anneke expressing your interest at [email protected]
There are also many volunteering opportunities with Calaid in Slough (see volunteering section below)
Social media accounts have now been set up for the group, including a public Facebook page, a private Facebook group by which we can share ideas, and a public twitter account. Please Like/Follow/Join these!
It has been decided that all subscribers to our mailing list will receive a monthly newsletter (what you’re reading currently) as well as more regular, smaller weekly/fortnightly updates via email.
Once again, if you’d like to read up on the full minutes and everything that was covered in our last meeting, click here!
Next Group Meeting

We’ve decided that our group will meet once a month, which will be a chance for us all to get to know each other and discuss our plans for the group. Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday 30th March, where we hope to be joined by speakers from the SOAS Detainee Support Group and City of Sanctuary Trustee and Vice-Chair Jonathan Ellis (TBC).

More details will be provided closer to the date, but we’d love to see you there!

Here’s a list of some of the upcoming events in the borough over the next month!

Stand Up To Racism Meeting
9 March, 6:30pm in Room LG04, UCL (CLIE), 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP

An opportunity to meet and network with other people/groups working in this area. Speakers include:
Sally Hunt, General Secretary UCU
Ian Lawrence, General Secretary NAPO
Shakira Martin, NUS Further Education Vice President
Weyman Bennett, Stand Up to Racism Joint National Secretary

Camden Welcomes Refugees
14th March, 7-9pm *VENUE CHANGE* Council Chamber, Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, WC1H 9JE

Hosted by the Citizens UK ‘Refugees Welcome’ group, this event will bring together people from across Camden and the surrounding area to show their support for welcoming more refugees and discuss how we can make it happen. There will be speeches from local and national leaders, volunteers and refugees themselves about the urgent need to protect families fleeing Syria’s civil war. Speakers will include:
Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat Leader
Natalie Bennett, Green Party Leader
Ahmad Al Rashid, a Syrian refugee
Rob Lawrie, a volunteer aid worker
We believe Camden has the capacity to accommodate 50 refugee families by 2020, and we are building a powerful network of individuals, organisations and institutions to help make this possible.

Human Rights Film Festival
9th – 18th March, Various venues across London.
Prices May Vary

The Human Rights Film Festival has arrived in London! Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. The festival encourages filmmakers around the world to address human rights subject matter in their work and presents films from both new and established international filmmakers.

For a full schedule of the films being shown, check out their website here:

Refugees Welcome Here – on UN Antiracism Day
19th March, Assembling at Portland Place, London.

Stand up to racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism.
Let’s send a message that drives back the tide of racism, fascism, Islamophobia, anti- Semitism and the scapegoating of migrants and refugees – we say refugees welcome here and yes to diversity!

Join the Europe-wide demonstration on 19 March (UN anti-racism day) when tens of thousands march across Britain, with major mobilisations in London, Scotland and Wales joining thousands in cities around the world to say no to racism

If you’re hoping to get involved this month, then GOOD NEWS, there are lots of upcoming volunteering dates with our friends over at Calaid!

They are looking for lots of people to join in and help with the sorting and packaging process for donations to be sent to refugees and migrants across Europe. Volunteering with them is always super fun and a really crucial component in the amazing work that they do!

Current Dates for Slough are:

March: 5th and 6th, 12th and 13th, 19th and 20th, and 26th and 27th.

The warehouse will be open from 10am to 4pm. You don’t have to come for the whole day, but the longer you stay the better and be warned, it’s addictive.

Ages 18 and over. All welcome.
Please email [email protected] with which days you are planning to volunteer and if you have any further questions.

Exciting things aren’t just happening here in Camden. In fact, City of Sanctuary groups are doing amazing things all across the country!

Take a look at what other City of Sanctuary groups have been up to:

The Irish Sanctuary in Politics Programme:

City of Sanctuary Dublin launched it’s Irish Sanctuary in Politics programme last month, which sets 30 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from four continents and countless language groups on a four-week interactive programme which will include training and practice in public speaking, an introduction to politics in Ireland, and intensive media training from print and live media experts.

The programme will straddle the general election and be followed up by practical opportunities for participants, including a trip to the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) and a variety of public speaking engagements, opportunities for this gifted group of trainees to bring the migrant voice more into the mainstream of Irish political and public life. Watch this space, these voices are set to make a big impact!

Swansea Maternity Stream Launch:

The City of Sanctuary Network’s ‘Maternity Stream’ has cities across the country dedicating time and energy into celebrating the fantastic work that maternity services and organisations are doing to support refugee and asylum seeking women and young children. This month Swansea will be officially launching their own Maternity steam with an event on the 18th of March, looking both at the experiences that people have had or are having in Swansea as well as looking at the context in which this occurs such as entitlements, difficulties with language and the issues of dispersal, detention and so on.

Their hope is that by setting up this stream they will be able to support each other, help tackle some of the barriers that refugee and asylum seeking women face and ensure that people have access to all the fantastic support and guidance that is available in Swansea.

Give us your feedback!

What did you think of our first newsletter? Is there anything that you’d like to see in the next? Let us know your thoughts by emailing us at [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!