Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary


Your story

Welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Lancaster and Morecambe.

Group introduction

Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary was established in September 2015 after its Project Coordinator, Rebecca Joy Novell, raised money and donations to travel to Calais and Lesvos to volunteer at the refugee camps. Whilst there, she realized the scale of the refugee crisis and that more needed to be done to welcome refugees in to safe countries. On her return to the UK, she proposed a motion to Lancaster City Council, in her role as City Councillor, to welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers in the Lancaster and Morecambe area. This was voted in with cross-party support on September 23rd 2015 and by December, the district welcomed its first asylum seekers under the Serco dispersal scheme. Rebecca convened a Steering Group of eight volunteers to make decisions and coordinate volunteers and support. Since December, we have supported 22 asylum seekers from Sudan, Kuwait, Syria and Iran, with more arriving every month. We currently have over 20 volunteers offering a twice weekly commitment and more offering occasional support.
Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary aims to:
- Make it practically possible for Lancaster and Morecambe to accommodate refugees and asylum seekers by providing the relevant support such as housing, health, befriending and English lessons.
- Act as a welcome and support network to those refugees and asylum seekers who come to Lancaster and Morecambe.
- Run education activities that educate and inform people about refugees and promote community cohesion.
- Campaign and fundraise to ensure Lancaster and Morecambe does its fair share in providing sanctuary to people fleeing war and persecution.
We currently support four houses with 17 men across the houses. In addition to this, we support four men who were moved to Blackburn from Lancaster and would like to return now they have been given Leave To Remain. We provide Welcome Packs for each new arrival, which includes a warm fleece, toiletries, a map of the city and information about free support we provide and how to access help (translated in to the relevant language). Serco inform us the day before individuals arrive so we can welcome them. We then provide tailored support based on what they identify as their needs – this has most commonly been health issues, support acquiring a lawyer, learning English and playing football.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We would use this money to continue to develop the work we are doing supporting asylum seekers and refugees. We would like to provide volunteer training and handbooks to train 150 more volunteers over the course of three years. These volunteers will support between 300 and 1,200 new arrivals in a safe and effective manner.

We would like to spend the money on developing the Volunteer Handbook (printing costs) and training and support. The costs would also go towards developing training resources, as well as registering for DBS checks to ensure all our volunteers are DBS checked and therefore vulnerable service users are protected.

"Lancaster and Morecambe City of Sanctuary is a group of local people who have come together in a desperate need to respond to the current global refugee crisis. The group is an example of what amazing things can be achieved when people work together.
Rebecca Joy Novell, Joint Project Coordinator."

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