On Wednesday 31st October 2012, Ipswich Borough Council passed a resolution of support towards Ipswich becoming a “Town of Sanctuary”.
Since then, Ipswich Town of Sanctuary has been looking at how it can work collaboratively with the Council to actively welcome, include and raise awareness about sanctuary seekers in Ipswich.
The City of Sanctuary movement encourages communities to take pride in offering a place of safety for people whose lives are threatened and celebrating their contribution to towns and cities. The focus is on those people who are forced to seek sanctuary rather than voluntary migration or diversity in general. At the same time we intend that the process of working for a culture of hospitality will also benefit other migrant groups, as well as host communities.
Although Ipswich Town of Sanctuary has a different focus to that of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality and the Strategic Migration Partnership, we held a meeting at the start of the year to discuss what information Ipswich Borough Council staff would perhaps find most beneficial before the upcoming European elections where there may be plenty of rhetoric and incorrect information being put out by some people. Our goal is to arm staff with knowledge about wider issues surrounding immigration so that they feel empowered and able to counteract negative views by having the correct facts/figures to hand. We therefore felt that the following topics might be useful:
High Skilled Migrants
Spousal Visas and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
Asylum Seekers and Refugees
European Economic Area (EEA)
We are looking to offer this as a workshop and rather than producing leaflets/information pack, we believe it would be more beneficial to email information that staff find most useful/relevant along with sources and links – the reason for this particular method of sharing information is purely for the fact that terminology and policies/procedures get updated regularly so hopefully by sharing information this way, the most up-to-date sources will be to hand at all times.
Additionally, we would like to organise for Inderjit Bhogal OBE, the founder of City of Sanctuary to come to the Council to give a short presentation about the movement and also give examples of what has been happening in other Councils that are associated with the City of Sanctuary movement across the UK.
We have been advised that this proposal was passed to the Councillor Development Panel. It will be reviewed at the next meeting which because of purdah will be in June. This means, that unfortunately, the workshop has not been able to be delivered before the upcoming European elections. We have however been advised that the hope for the session is to run later in the year which will combine a Councillor and Officer session to utilise the training being offered.