Leeds City of Sanctuary is part of a national movement to create a culture of welcome, especially for those seeking sanctuary.

Dear Friend,

Welcome to the Leeds City of Sanctuary Autumn Newsletter. Our newsletter aims to keep you up to date with action that the citizens of Leeds are taking to create a culture of welcome and to promote events that fit with our ethos of welcoming refugees, asylum seekers & migrants in the community of Leeds.

Since we last brought out a newsletter it feels as if a lot has changed in the UK, particularly in light of the referendum result in June. With hate crime reportedly on the increase and an atmosphere of uncertainty around migration and its reception, it is more important than ever that we, the community of Leeds, work together to show sanctuary seekers that they are welcome and appreciated in our city. We hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and that it goes some way towards show-casing just how much is going on in Leeds and beyond to welcome and integrate sanctuary seekers. 

Please email us if you have any news, an event to share, or even an act of sanctuary that everyone should know about; we would love to hear from you!

Most importantly, thank you for supporting Leeds City of Sanctuary! 
Acts of Sanctuary in Leeds and beyond...

Hearts and Hopes Exhibition 
The Hearts and Hopes project, founded in Leeds by Nola Ellen, is an intercultural child voice project, connecting children in England with children seeking refuge around the world. After learning about the experiences of sanctuary seekers, children throughout England have had the opportunity to share messages of love, care, peace, hope, solidarity and welcome in the form of words, art and videos, which are hand delivered to children living in refugee camps in Calais and Lebanon by Nola herself during interactive workshops. A powerful exhibition showcasing the project has been displayed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. To find out more, and to find out where you can see the exhibition for yourself, please visit Nola's website

Opera North- Community Partners 
Leeds City of Sanctuary has been named one of the official community partners of Opera North for 2016/17. This is part of the Community Engagement Project which aims to open up work at the Grand Theatre and Opera House to those who may not usually have the opportunity to engage. Refugees and asylum seekers will be able to attend events, concerts and workshops for completely free! We are also looking for Theatre of Sanctuary volunteers who feel confident attending the theatre to support the attendance of refugees and asylum seekers . Please contact us at if you are interested in free tickets or volunteering with the Arts stream.
Launch of
 Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network (LASSN) have launched a new online directory of services for refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds. The website called gathers details of 175 (and counting!) different places where help can be found- from food and shelter to legal advice and advocacy. But it's not just for people seeking help, but for those wanting to offer help as well- keeping an up to date list of all the volunteering opportunities in the RAS support sector across the city. The website's even translated into 20 different languages. Check it out now
Spreading of Sanctuary
In 2015 the West Yorkshire Playhouse became the first Theatre of Sanctuary- making an unwavering commitment to sanctuary seeking communities in Leeds and taking action to promote a culture of welcome in all its activities. Last month the West Yorkshire Playhouse presented the Young Vic Theatre in London with a Theatre of Sanctuary Award, providing an inspirational example of how a vision of sanctuary can be passed on and how the responsibility for achieving that vision can be shared. 
Keeping Sanctuary Seekers of West Yorkshire Safe: Consultation with West Yorkshire Police
City of Sanctuary and the West Yorkshire police held a joint meeting that aimed to try and understand how to keep sanctuary seekers safe. The meeting explored why sanctuary seekers might sometimes feel unsafe, what barriers they face when interacting with the police force, and looked at how the WY Police can challenge these barriers. If you would like to speak to someone about an experience you've had with the police then please email 
Beyond Borders: Sanctuary in the Arts at the West Yorkshire Playhouse

In October the West Yorkshire Playhouse hosted a networking event in partnership with Platforma Arts exploring theatre, dance, refugees and migration. At the event a vast range of projects were discussed and ideas of how to create sanctuary in the arts were shared. If you would like to be kept in the loop regarding any future events of this kind please email  

Birth with Sanctuary 
Volunteers from the City of Sanctuary Maternity Stream recorded this film 'Birth with Sanctuary' to highlight the important work they do to ensure that other mums do not "suffer as we had suffered" at the hands of the asylum system- for example, asylum seeking mothers are charged for maternity care despite having no recourse to public funds or the legal right to work in the UK. 

Toast Love Coffee Community Cafe lives on in Harehills
The Toast Love Coffee community cafe has re-opened in beautiful, colorful new premises on Hovingham Avenue in Harehills, LS8 3QY. Creating and developing community through good coffee, good food and good conversation, TLC is part of the Real Junk Food Project which rescues food destined for waste. A great way to build new friendships, practice languages and make sure we #feedbelliesnotbins! Pay-as you-feel, no prices, pay with money, time or skills! Open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8.45am and 12 noon. 
'Tanja' play about detention tours around UK
Our very own volunteer, Emily Ntshangase-Wood, plays the lead role in this hard-hitting play by Strawberry Blonde Curls theatre company in partnership with City of Sanctuary, depicting the story of a woman held in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre. For more information on the play visit the SBC page. Final dates:
Soul y Vida
The Fenton Pub are holding funk and soul nights to raise money for Leeds No Borders, who work tirelessly to support sanctuary seekers in Leeds. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for info on the next solidarity party and to find out about the Spanish history behind their namesake. Next event on October 28th.
Rose McCarthy Moving On
After many years of devotion to Leeds City of Sanctuary, Rose McCarthy has taken on a new role as Yorkshire & Humberside Volunteer Coordinator at the Refugee Council. Rose has been with us right from the start. Her contribution to the movement has been outstanding and we will truly miss her. We held a moving on do for Rose to say a huge thank you for all her hard work and to wish her well in her next adventure!
Leeds Muslim Youth Group hosts Welcome Event for Refugees

LMYG in partnership with Makkah Masjid Mosque, both members of Citizens UK, opened their doors to host an event for refugee families in Leeds with delicious food, fun and games and even some magic tricks! If you would like support to host a 'sanctuary supper' please contact Citizens UK is a campaigning group that organises communities to act together for power, social justice and the common good. Their most recent 'Safe Passage' programme is testament to the power of communities united, as this week we have seen 14 unaccompanied children reunited with their families in the UK from Calais. If your group or organisation are interested in gaining a voice on refugee issues and many more, you too can become a part of Citizens UK. More info here
Upcoming Events in Leeds
Thursday 20th October 2016
Leeds City of Sanctuary Steering Group Meeting

Join us for our steering group meeting to reflect on the work we've done and and make collective decisions about how the movement should proceed in future. Anyone is welcome, provided you are committed to achieving our aim of creating a culture of welcome in Leeds for those seeking sanctuary.

If you have any questions, would like to be added to the steering group mailing list, or would like to be sent the minutes from a steering group meeting, please contact The meeting will take place at 10am at the Toast Love Coffee Cafe on Hovingham Avenue, LS8 3QY.

Saturday 22nd October 2016
Leeds No Borders Autumn Gathering

Join Leeds No Borders and friends for a day of tasty food (Halal and Vegan options available), brilliant films, talks, and finally some great music. More information click here. 

3rd November 2016
Awareness Raising and How to Do it- Training Session

Refugee Council, Leeds City of Sanctuary and West Yorkshire Playhouse are running a workshop to share ideas about how to raise awareness about asylum issues and improve your presentation skills. On the day we want to learn from each other so please bring your stories, tips, songs, poems, favourite methods of engaging an audience etc. The training will be at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and will be completely free! To book email:


1st November 2016
No Going Back UK- Fundraising Dinner

No Going Back is a charity that works to defend the right of LGBT asylum seekers fleeing persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity to find sanctuary in the UK. Their name is based on a damning report published by Stonewall in 2010 that found that many persecuted LGBT asylum seekers were being deported due to systematic discrimination in the UK asylum system. On November 1st at the Oxford Place Centre, LS1 3LX, they are holding a fundraising dinner to try to raise the legal fees required to save one service-user from deportation to Uganda. Find out more here.

20th November 2016 + 11th December
Amnesty International Leeds Group presents: Human Rights Human Wrongs- Film series

In collaboration with the Hyde Park Picture House, Amnesty Leeds Group is presenting a series of monthly films around the theme of international human rights. For more information please see the flyer here

Ongoing Projects and Opportunities in Leeds
Dance opportunities as part of Yorkshire's Contemporary Music Festival, the Juncture Festival 2016. For more info click here. Travel and food bursaries available for those from a refugee background. More info contact:

A free 3 week course on
supporting refugees and asylum seekers with finances is being run by LASSN and Ebor Gardens Advice Centre. For more info click here

Afro-beat Fridays African Dance Sessions are now running from Trinity United Church LS8 5PX every Friday from 5:30-7:00pm. This project was created in response to migrant women who have settled in the UK who shared experiences of feeling alienated from the environment and local communities they live in. As many feel out of place or are unable to afford to enter typical social spaces such as night clubs and bars- this group is a way to get in touch again with their fun side. It is free and open to everyone- including those who are curious about other cultures, keen to socialise and ready to get silly as well as exercise. For more info see the flyer here or contact Penny on 01535612500.

ASAP is providing Free Webinar training on
Introduction to Asylum Support for Beginners- 31st October 2016, 2.00-300pm. More info here.

Utopia Theatre Company is seeking to develop a theatre project for refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds with the aim of ultimately producing a touring show. Utopia will deliver the tools for budding actors to build their voices, louder and stronger. If you or someone you know is interested in acting, the performing arts, or story-telling in it's many forms please contact or call 07731528856.

Roma Engagement and Access Project led by Touchstone Community Development Service is now running to support the Roma community to engage with services, learn about life in Leeds, how things work and much more. It runs from Touchstone 41-47 Cromwell Mount LS9 7ST every Wednesday from 10am-2pm. For more info check out the flyer here. Volunteers wanted!

Touchstone IAPT is running a
(free) stress class in the Farsi language starting on Monday 15th August at 5.00pm at 179 Hazelwood Drive LS9 7RE. For more info or to make a referral please contact Morteza on 0113 216 3000/07909253317 or visit this link. Flyer in Farsi can be found here

The Nisa-Nashim
Jewish-Muslim women's network celebrates the similarities of women of the different faiths and strengthens each by bringing them closer together. The group  in Leeds is going strong, including holding a picnic recently in Roundhay Park. For more info on this grass-roots movement check out their Facebook page or their website

Free cooking classes for refugees and asylum seekers are running on Tuesday mornings in Beeston. Find out more here

The Asmarina Voices
Choir for refugee and asylum seeking women continues at the West Yorkshire Playhouse every Friday from 1pm-2.30pm. These are free, fun and friendly singing sessions where children are welcome and refreshments are provided. See the flyer here or contact Ruth on 0113 213 7295.

Leeds Refugee Forum has a
new timetable of activities that can be seen here.

There are a number of
FREE refugee and asylum seeker reading groups meeting in Leeds- at Compton Road library, Leeds Central Library, Little London Community Centre and Armley Public Library. At these groups everyone read stories and poems out loud together and then discusses them together. New members always welcome! More info on the flyer here. 

Volunteering Opportunities
  • Manuel Bravo are urgently looking for volunteers (Urgent: Farsi, Dari, Somali speakers. Pressing: Amharic and Kurdish Sorani speakers)- do you know anyone who could help? Contact:
  • Leeds City of Sanctuary are looking for Theatre Volunteers to attend performances at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Grand Theatre and Opera House alongside refugees and asylum seekers. The role involves befriending and supporting refugees and asylum seekers to find the venue and navigate what can be a very daunting experience. More info:
  • #forrefugees- There is an opportunity to host an art exhibition for a week in your church, synagogue, mosque or other building. More info here
Campaigning for welcome: How to get involved


  • Contact Regional Asylum Activism: 
  • The Refugee Council is running the Just.Fair. campaign, which is particularly concerned about the poverty and destitution facing asylum seekers. Find out more here.
  • The Refugee Council, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Student Action for Refugees (STAR) and others are calling for asylum seekers to be allowed to work as part of the Just.Fair. Let them work! campaign. Find out how you can support their campaign here.
  • Amnesty International is campaigning for a fair and effective asylum system and to end the destitution of asylum seekers. Find out more about Amnesty's campaign here


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