What is a Sanctuary Meeting?A Sanctuary Meeting is a Quaker Meeting that is committed to:
- Joining local initiatives to build a culture of welcome
- Building alliances with groups opposing racism
- Working with others to change the laws on destitution, detention, deportations and removals.
What makes a Sanctuary Meeting?
How a Sanctuary Meeting fulfills the commitments changes from area to area. Actions taken will vary in response to local issues, abilities and passions within the community, and the leadings of the spirit. Here are some of the things that Sanctuary Meetings are supported to do:
- Building alliances with migrant or BME-led anti-racist groups in your area, including by offering room grants.
- Holding at least one public meeting a year with other local groups, especially people with direct experience of being discriminated against by the border system.
- Lobbying local politicians. A Quaker manifesto for change has been proposed for discernment this autumn.
- Offering accompaniment to people seeking sanctuary in negotiating 'everyday borders' such as healthcare and the education system
- Assisting campaigns that use direct action to resist deportation.
- Affiliating with a local City of Sanctuary group, if one is nearby
- If your meeting is based in the countryside, linking up with city-based groups to offer holidays or short breaks for sanctuary seekers
- If your meeting is close to a Quaker school, working together on projects to assist asylum seeking children
- If your meeting is within travelling distance of an immigration detention centre, at least one person joining a visiting group, upheld by – and reporting back to – the meeting
- If your meeting owns property, considering turning these into houses of hospitality for people made destitute by the asylum system. Younger Friends in your meeting could be particularly interested in helping to run houses of hospitality.
By committing to being a Sanctuary Meeting, local meetings become part of an international movement to build a culture of hospitality. You will be supported with training, publicity materials, retreats, teleconferences and mutual support networks, channelled into a campaign for political change.
What is happening already?
Quakers across Britain are working in different ways to welcome newcomers to the country. You can read stories about Quakers providing housing for destitute asylum seekers , supporting and setting up City of Sanctuary groups, welcoming resettled refugees, hosting community gardening projects, and campaigning with the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network.
Sanctuary Meetings are being pioneered by:
- Llangollen Quaker Meeting
- Lichfield Quaker Meeting
Become a Sanctuary Meeting
At your next Local Business Meeting, seek a minute committing to the three points listed above.
Email your Local Meeting minute and contact details for the two people working on the project to firstname.lastname@example.org. At least one of the two people should be a member or attender at your meeting. You will then receive support tailored to the needs of your meeting and local community.
To find out more about forced migration and what what it means to be a Sanctuary Meeting, listen to the Sanctuary editions of the Q:Witness podcast below.