What practical actions can a local authority take?
To become an awarded ‘Council of Sanctuary’ a local authority is expected to meet the criteria as outlined in the award guidelines. We encourage local authorities to build on the criteria in a way that best reflects their specific context.
Council of Sanctuary Criteria:
- Join the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network which includes a pledge to support the vision of City of Sanctuary and an endorsement of its charter
- Pass a council motion setting out commitment to being a place of sanctuary
- Commit to working with the local City of Sanctuary (which could be via a specific local pledge) (and/or other refugee networks)
- Show evidence of the work with the local City of Sanctuary group (and/or other refugee networks) and receive the endorsement from those groups for the award application
- Commit to work with partners to identify national policy issues in order to make collective representations to government to encourage and enable change
- Produce a written strategy (either an independent strategy or as part of a broader strategy e.g. equality, migration etc) which is publicly available and sets out commitment for at least three years.
● Criterion 1: Awareness raising opportunities are provided, and
opportunities for discussion around the theme of welcome and sanctuary are
● Criterion 2: Evidence of refugee/asylum/migration awareness raising
is included into everyday business of the local authority e.g. staff
● Criterion 3: Commitment to supporting the voices of people seeking
sanctuary to be heard.
● Criterion 4: The local authority must demonstrate how it has embedded
the concept of welcome and inclusion at all levels of the organisation. This
should show how the local authority will continue to develop and sustain a
culture of welcome beyond the award.
● Criterion 5: Commitment to supporting initiatives that embeds
welcome and fosters solidarity between receiving communities and
people seeking sanctuary e.g. participation in Refugee Week, more
information about the annual event can be found here:
- Criterion 6: A public commitment to the City of Sanctuary vision of welcome
- Criterion 7: The local authority publicly highlights its work in support of
welcome and inclusion by making it visible on its website and noticeboards
- Criterion 8: Commitment to on-going engagement with the City of
Sanctuary Local Authority Network. This may include sharing resources,
ideas and achievements via the network and City of Sanctuary UK website.
- Criterion 9: Work with the network to identify national policy issues in order
to make collective representations to government to encourage and
- An official webpage stating the commitment to the City of Sanctuary vision (exemplified by Council of Sanctuary Award).
- The webpage to provide information and links for services for people seeking sanctuary (or links to other directory).
- A survey of services to find out what action is needed to ensure that those services can be, and are accessed are by people seeking sanctuary.
- Staff awareness training as part of diversity training/staff induction, and then also in specific relevant departments such as housing and social services.
- Awareness raising opportunities for the local authority and local communities on why people have to flee their country of origin and seek safety, including ensuring the voices of people seeking sanctuary are heard.
- Provision of free school uniforms and school meals to children from families seeking sanctuary.
- Initiatives that embed welcomes and fosters solidarity between local communities and people seeking sanctuary e.g. Refugee Week and other positive events such as conferences and regular invitations to “welcome tea parties” or similar by the Lord Mayor or Leader of the Council.
- Free Provision of council venues for refugee support groups to meet.
- Working to negate the impact of NRPF policies, including ensuring that Social Services understand the legislation so that whenever possible they assist vulnerable people seeking sanctuary.
- Ensure that the mental health needs of destitute asylum seekers are considered as part of commissioning arrangements.
- Provide and/or facilitate volunteering opportunities for people seeking sanctuary, including those which benefit the local community.
- Provide and/or facilitate free English classes.
- Seek to improve the integration of refugees so they can fulfil their potential and contribute to local communities.
- Encourage close working relationships with the voluntary sector to provide help, support and advice to applicants and enable a coordinated response to relevant issues.
- Allow people living alone to host refugees without losing their sole occupancy council tax discount (Swindon Borough Council do this for up to 3 months).
- Commitment and respond positively to resettlement schemes.
- Make collective representations to government to encourage and enable change e.g. support for #LiftTheBan.
- Support for streams of Sanctuary initiatives e.g. Schools of Sanctuary, Libraries of Sanctuary.