Thursday, 5 November 2009

Power developed, relationships secured, and public support for sanctuary beginning to be rebuilt in the West Midlands

By Jonny Scott

Before boarding the train back to London from Birmingham I was asked by a lady with a clipboard if I could spare a moment to let her know how my day in Birmingham had been. She was from the tourism board. I don’t think she was expecting me to launch into a moment-by-moment evaluation of today’s very successful action!

I am pleased to report that our CITIZENS for Sanctuary team in the West Midlands has secured negotiations with both the Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF), and Ofsted, to ensure that no child in their region leaves education without a strong understanding of the UK’s long and proud tradition of providing sanctuary to people fleeing persecution.

This is one of the key recommendations in the Independent Asylum Commission’s Saving Sanctuary report. We know that this is vital to rebuilding public support for sanctuary - and the DCSF and Ofsted see it as the logical next step for their community cohesion agenda.

The whole issue of education was central to our CITIZENS for Sanctuary Action Team from the start, and all credit must go to Clare Daley of the migration partnership for masterminding the action along with the Children’s Society. Our strategy team met several times over the last months to consider how to get our targets there, how to build our power – and how to rebuild public support for sanctuary whilst executing our action.

Elly Tobin of the College for International Citizenship hosted the session, which was focusing on Community Cohesion in Education, and brilliantly chaired the panel session, where our leaders made their ask. It is a testament to the planning that went in that everything went so smoothly, and now we must plan the negotiations so as to ensure we achieve our aims.

Power developed, relationships secured, and public support for sanctuary beginning to be rebuilt in the West Midlands.

We were really grateful to all the schools and colleges that were there (children and teachers) to help put the pressure on, and see the result of all their hard work. And to all those who took away copies of ‘10 Ways for CITIZENS to Save Sanctuary’, I hope you enjoy the read – but don’t forget I’ll be chasing you up to know which actions you tried, and how they went!

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