Wales – Nation of Sanctuary?

Cardiff Amnesty International’s November event was held in collaboration with the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. An inspiring panel of community activists reported on the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Wales in an evening of debate entitled “Wales – Nation of Sanctuary?”

Alongside chairing the event, Susie Ventris-Field, speaking on behalf of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs, drew attention to the work being done by the Wales for Peace project. From Belgians fleeing the First World War to present day refugees escaping Syria, Wales’ historic role as a place of sanctuary over the last hundred years was highlighted.

Rebecca Scott from the City of Sanctuary Network continued the theme of Wales being a welcoming and tolerant nation by explaining the pioneering work undertaken in Cardiff and Swansea to create safe environments for refugees. While drawing attention to the Welsh Government’s Nation of Sanctuary Delivery Plan, Rebecca also explained the goals of the Lift the Ban campaign to allow refugees to work while applying for their right to remain in the UK .

Olwen Evans, Cardiff Council, explained the important work being developed in the education sector with the Schools of Sanctuary programme. Focusing on the example of Cradoc Primary and Llanishen High School, Olwen detailed some of the educational resources available to governors, teachers and students. Olwen’s plea that we all encourage the next generation to take their responsibilities of global citizenship seriously was warmly received.

The final speaker was Ali Abdi, a Community Organiser for Citizens Cymru Wales. Ali spoke about the work being done in Cardiff under the banner of the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative. While discussing the leading role of communities in resettling refugee families, the interfaith collaboration between the South Wales Islamic Centre and St Mary’s Church, Butetown was also noted. An inspiring film explaining the Community Sponsorship model ended his presentation with a poignant call to action.

A lively and informed question and answer session followed where connections were forged and the work of Asylum Justice highlighted. Asylum Justice have organised a fundraising quiz night on Friday 30th November at the City United Reformed Church, 33 Windsor Place, Cardiff CF10 3BZ starting at 7:30 (£5.00 per ticket and food provided) to which the audience was invited.

Cardiff Amnesty would like to thank everyone who came to the event and to our friends at the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. Amnesty International is currently leading a national campaign to welcome refugee under the banner of ‘I Welcome’; to learn more click here.

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