Sanctuary Seekers’ Unit


An important part of our sanctuary work is a range of exciting initiatives which we are working on. As sanctuary is a complex and multi-faceted field, each of these initiatives (and our sanctuary work more widely) has necessarily involved creating a nexus between different elements – between research and practice, different parts of the university, different disciplines, different organisations, different sectors and different levels of operation (micro, meso, macro). Each of our initiatives outlined in this section has come about in response to emerging needs.

Some of these initiatives were developed in direct response to specific political and humanitarian crises around the world. For example, Bright Path Futures came about in response to the Afghan crisis in August/September 2021, when it became clear that there were many newly-arrived families in UK hotels who were in need of English language and well-being support, but there was little or no suitable provision available to meet their needs (particularly the needs of the women, many of whom were pre-literate in their own language). Another project which directly responds to the fallout of a political crisis is our work to support those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which involves various initiatives both within our university and outside it (working with universities in Ukraine and around the UK).

We have other initiatives which have been developed in response to more long-term needs which we have identified. One of these is our work on trauma-informed pedagogy in the ESOL classroom, which is an area in which there was previously very little research and practical guidance for ESOL teachers working with refugee-background students (despite the fact that ESOL teachers in both UK and non-UK contexts are often in a position where they have refugee-background students in their classes). Another initiative responding to longer-term issues is RefugEAP, which is a structured online programme of free non-formal English for Academic Purposes (EAP) classes and independent learning resources, specifically for refugee-background students. This is designed and delivered in conjunction with the University of Leeds Language Centre, and generously supported by a range of partner organisations and volunteers.

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