The national charity City of Sanctuary has awarded Lewisham the status of “Council of Sanctuary” – the first time a UK local authority has received the honour. Here is a link to the public statement with supporting words from City of Sanctuary, Sadiq Khan and Lord Alf Dubs – a close friend of Lewisham’s (and one-time policy officer here).

The Sanctuary Awards are provided by a network of groups and City of Sanctuary UK to recognise and celebrate mainstream organisations’ commitment to the values and vision of the City of Sanctuary Charter. We were approved by a rigorous accreditation process that comprised City of Sanctuary staff, local migrant support groups and Lewisham residents with lived experience.

This is a major milestone in our manifesto and corporate strategy commitment to make Lewisham a true Borough of Sanctuary for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. As a council we have acted in partnership with many local community groups and highly motivated residents that we are so lucky to have across Lewisham. As a result, we have been able to turn our opposition to the “hostile environment” and our approach of listening and welcoming into real change.

Embedding the Sanctuary Approach

We have placed sanctuary principles at the heart of our service design:

  • We approved our Sanctuary Strategy which embeds the sanctuary approach across all council services, with action plans that are regularly reviewed.
  • We appointed the country’s first Sanctuary Programme Manager to oversee the implementation of the Sanctuary Strategy and work with local partners and national organisations.
  • We made refugee resettlement the keystone of our commitment to sanctuary, with London’s leading resettlement programme containing a target of 100 families and 33 already welcomed in Lewisham. In addition we are committed to supporting an additional 100 unaccompanied asylum seeking children over the next 10 years.

Transforming local services

We know that many people with a migrant background face additional challenges when seeing to access local services, so we have been pro-active in removing barriers and providing additional support:

Campaigning for change

We recognise that we are limited by law and national policy in our ability to provide support to refugees, asylum seekers and refugees. So we also campaign for change alongside other councils, national charities and our local partners in the Lewisham Migration Forum. Campaigns include:

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