Support for Leicester City of Sanctuary

Representatives from the University received a comprehensive insight into the wide-ranging work of Leicester City of Sanctuary during a visit to a Sanctuary drop-in centre.

The University’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Hall was joined by Professor of Public Engagement Turi King and members from External Relations and the School of History, Politics and International Relations for the visit at Holy Cross Church, Leicester.

They met with Shali Bullough, Leicester City of Sanctuary co-ordinator, along with volunteers and asylum seeker ambassadors. In addition, University representatives met with refugees and asylum seekers, including from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Azherbaijan and Iran.

Shali outlined the wide-ranging work of Leicester City of Sanctuary and the support offered through the drop-in, other LCoS services and additional support networks provided by Red Cross and other organisations within the city.

Activities run at the LCoS drop-in include a hot meal, outings for refugees, including one to Foxton Locks planned for the day of the visit. In addition, there is a welcome table for new arrivals with signposting to local services, a play area for children, aerobics and stalls providing toiletries, food and clothing. Most of the activities provided at the drop-in are run by the asylum seekers themselves. Activities on other days include English classes, IT and sewing classes and a football session.

Shali highlighted the success of the language classes provided by the University’s English Language Teaching Unit and how it empowered those seeking refuge in Leicester.

Dave Hall said: “It is instructive and impressive to see the work of Leicester City of Sanctuary and we applaud the outstanding efforts of those who are seeking to make Leicester a more welcoming and inclusive place for those who have been displaced.  We are committed to becoming a University that welcomes refugees and asylum seekers and increasing the opportunities for them to participate in, and contribute to, our community.  By working with groups in the community to support refugees and asylum seekers, we aim to show our solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers and demonstrate that we are a University that supports those most in need.

“The University itself stands as a testament to those who have made enormous sacrifices in past conflict –as a living memorial and symbol of hope for future generations. Our motto, Ut Vitam Habeant – That They May Have Life – underpins our ethos and provides hope for future generations of advancement through the benefits of a higher education.”

Shali added: “University of Leicester is a key partner for LCoS and we value the contribution they make helping us to improve the lives of asylum seekers and refugees in our city. We look forward to finding new ways of working together and strengthening our partnership.”

The visit to the drop-in centre took place during Refugee Week -a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events and activities that celebrates the contribution of refugees to the UK, and promotes better understanding of why people seek sanctuary. 

The University is working towards becoming a University of Sanctuary and is already working with refugees and asylum seekers. In addition to providing language classes, the University is opening up other opportunities for participation in higher education.

During Refugee Week the University:

  • Provided information for those hoping to apply to University in the future
  • Highlighted information about volunteering opportunities with refugees and asylum seekers
  • Took part in a visit to a City of Sanctuary drop in
  • Provided talks about what it is like to be a refugee or asylum seeker in Europe
  • Organised a film show about the experience of three Zimbabwean refugees and their lives in Leicester

The University also supported the launch of an internationally acclaimed artwork at Leicester Cathedral. The installation, Suspended, will be exhibited from Refugee Week, through the Cathedral’s ‘Conversations’ season until Leicester’s ArtReach-led Journeys Festival International.

The University’s association with Leicester City of Sanctuary stretches for several years.  Initially this was around individual staff members volunteering but recently this has become more formalised and our connections include: