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Should Preston become a City of Sanctuary?

Posted on - 9th December, 2016 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, News, Politics, Preston Council

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A group which seeks to welcome refugees with open arms into Preston could receive the backing of Preston City Council.

Council leader councillor Peter Rankin has lodged his support for a City of Sanctuary being created in the city.

Preston was one of the first authorities in the North West to agree to accept Syrian refugees, with five families now settled here.

The charity states it is ‘a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.’ Sheffield was the firs place to be declared a City of Sanctuary.

Read more: Lancashire takes in more refugees than any other council

Cllr Rankin writes, in his motion to a meeting of the city council:

“This Council is proud of Preston’s history down the centuries of welcoming refugees and others fleeing persecution, war and natural disasters.

“We believe this shows that Prestonians value the contribution those seeking sanctuary can make to our society,

“It is further noted that local people have set up a City of Sanctuary networking and coordinating group for those wishing to volunteer to support refugees and asylum seekers settling in Preston.

“Preston City of Sanctuary is part of a mainstream, grassroots movement building a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK and Ireland. Their goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety for people seeking sanctuary and helping them integrate into their local communities.

“Within Lancashire there are already groups in Lancaster and Blackburn. The organisation works as an umbrella group by building coalitions of support from across a range of community groups and creating opportunities for the development of relationships between local people and those seeking sanctuary.”

A young mother crosses the border from Syria and becomes a refugee. She carries her one-month-old son, Hamid. “Since he was born there has been non-stop bombing every day.” Pic: UNCHF

A young mother crosses the border from Syria and becomes a refugee. She carries her one-month-old son, Hamid. “Since he was born there has been non-stop bombing every day.” Pic: UNCHF

Cllr Rankin’s motion goes on to list four ways he sees the city council helping with this:

1) expressing its support for the establishment of a City of Sanctuary

2) ensuring officers liaise on a regular basis with the organisation on appropriate issues concerning refugees and encouraging other organisations and individuals to work in partnership

3) challenging discrimination and any sort of racism aimed at newcomers in Preston

4) doing all they can as an authority to offer a positive vision of a culture of hospitality for those in need of safety

Read more: Here’s what Syrian refugees get when arriving in Preston

The motion will be debated at the full council meeting on Thursday 15 December from 2pm at the Town Hall.

Do you support Preston becoming a City of Sanctuary? Let us know your views in the comments below

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