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Your Monthly Update - July 2020


Dear <<First Name>>, 

My father was a mapmaker,
Every brush and stroke, miles of his labour, carrying our home on his back and me, on his shoulders. 
One day, a man who hates maps; the father-thief struck.
Now, I close my eyes and imagine the kinder world left uncharted.
 
Halima Katun’s winning entry in Brighton & Hove Libraries’ Refugee Week flash fiction competition (Under 18s) evoked the bitter struggles of people seeking sanctuary, often on foot, but hinted at a kinder world, even if it only existed in the imagination. You can find this and other winning entries on 
Facebook
 
Running with this year’s “Imagine” theme and responding creatively to the constraints of the coronavirus lockdown, organisers of Brighton & Hove Refugee Week showed superb ingenuity in transposing workshops, film discussions, concerts, art exhibitions and stand-up comedy into the online space. Audiences missed meeting new friends over a dish of Syrian fattoush, Sudanese ful mademes and Ethiopian injera, while listening to Syrian music in the foyer of the Dome, but will appreciate our “Together” celebration all the more, next year. And there was something uniquely intimate and special about connecting with a film director, book collector, musicians, comedians and other refugees in our own living rooms. 
 
There has been much to celebrate this month. We were delighted to announce that Brighton & Hove libraries had won a Library of Sanctuary Award, in recognition of their success in making the Jubilee Library a place of welcome and thrilled that the University of Sussex has won a University of Sanctuary Award after an assessment by people with experience of seeking sanctuary, as well as staff from other universities. 
 
Many are celebrating the gradual lifting of lockdown, but people in refugee communities still depend on culturally appropriate food parcels and other help and are our partners are continuing to support them.  Both the Trust for Developing Communities and the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group are conducting research into the impact of COVID-19 on black minority ethnic (BAME) and refugee communities in Brighton & Hove. Meanwhile, the city council is launching an “
Engagement Fund” on 13 July that will offer grants of up to £2,000 to support projects that improve the well-being of BAME residents and promote fairness. 

Over the past few weeks I’m sure many of you will have wanted to close your eyes and “imagine the kinder world left uncharted” many times: when you heard the news of the killings in Reading, or the terrible incident in Glasgow, perhaps. Many of us were bitterly disappointed by the failure of MPs to agree important amendments to the Immigration Bill that would have protected family reunion for young asylum seekers and ended to the practice of indefinite detention.  

We were proud to see the local support for Black Lives Matter, many of us remembering people like Jimmy Mubenga, who died while being deported on a British Airways flight and Joy Gardner, who suffocated while being restrained on an immigration raid.  
 
Our friends in the Sussex Refugee and Migrant Self-Support Group say “make Black Lives Matter more than just a hashtag” by donating to
 this fund to help keep families together. One family they want to help has been separated for more than two years, since the dad, a British Iranian, brought his 2-year old daughter to the UK for life saving treatment for diabetes. He was unable to obtain visas for his wife and two older children, who had to stay in Iran. The separation has severely affected his mental health and that of the little girl. Please help them reach their target of £8,000 for visas, medical surcharges and legal costs.
 

Keep safe and well,
Richard Williams
Chair, Sanctuary on Sea


In the newsletter this month:
Information on COVID-19
Bags of Hope
Brighton Refugee Week highlights
New Sanctuary awards in Brighton & Hove 
Job opportunity with ACORN
National news from our Sanctuary network
Directory of Services


Don't forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
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Covid-19 Updates 
Information on Covid-19
We have updated our website with information about where to access coronavirus advice in many different languages. Please click hereWe have also created a poster with information on where to find food and get meals delivered to you in Brighton & Hove during the pandemic. Find it here.
Bags of Hope
When the pandemic hit, the Network of International Women of Brighton & Hove decided to help hospital workers on the frontline by sewing over 90 'scrub bags' where medics can safely store and transport their clothes at the end of the day. Councillor Nancy Platts, leader of the Brighton & Hove City Council, said ‘this story is a real inspiration…Our NHS workers need our support now more than ever, and these bags are a wonderful and innovative way to express that'. Read the full story here.
Local updates
Brighton Refugee Week highlights 
We had lots of fun at this year's virtual Refugee Week despite not being able to celebrate together in person! If you missed it, here's a round up of the week:

At the beginning of the week we heard people's ambitions as part of Ambigo's 'Imagine a Better Future For You' where speakers shared their goals and other participants offered support, contacts and advice. The goals included transforming a pop-up food stall into a fully fledged vegetarian Syrian café, which sounded incredibly tasty. You can 
find the Syrian Kitchen here and if you have ideas to help develop a business plan or find the cafe a permanent residence get in touch with Ambigo.

Later in the week we were treated to live music, poetry and short films as part of Best Foot Music's Refugee Week celebrations. The event featured the first ever public showing of
'An Artist's Spirit' with Bashir Al Gamar (pictured below), a 10 minute documentary where he speaks about his journey from Sudan and the creative process involved in his music and poetry. If you missed any of it, you can catch all the performances over on YouTube now - click here.

On Friday night we were joined by up and coming refugee and migrant comedians from No Direction Home in a gig headlined by rising star Mo Omar, who had lots of funny anecdotes about living in Cardiff and London after growing up in Somalia. 

On Saturday, SEAS (the Socially Engaged Art Salon) took us on a virtual tour around their new project to commemorate refugee lives lost at sea, Message in a Bottle.
We heard fantastic Lebanese music played live by musicians Sunny and Tia Shehab and were joined by the Mayor of Brighton, Alan Robins, who spoke about the value of diversity in our city and the importance of art in transcending borders and bringing people together. 

The Euro Mediterranean Resources Network (Euromernet) put on a packed schedule of events for the week including a talk with a refugee currently in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. And, of course, tons of films from their film club!  

Our libraries in Brighton & Hove also put on a fantastic range of events for families throughout the week, including online storytelling, children's crafts and the fantastic creative writing competition mentioned above. Browse the winning entries here.

If you attended any of the events (or even if you didn't!) we would really appreciate if you could fill out this survey about Refugee Week, which will help us to get valuable feedback and gain funding for future events. Please feedback by 10th July.
Jubilee Library and University of Sussex receive sanctuary awards
Congratulations to Jubilee Library in central Brighton which has won a Sanctuary Award for their work making the space welcoming and inclusive for refugees and migrants. 
Councillor Carmen Appich, chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee at the council, said: “It’s great news that we’ve achieved Library of Sanctuary status. The award further demonstrates our commitment to offering sanctuary to refugees and asylum seekers in the city. 
Everything being done gives a very important message that we are a diverse, welcoming community and all have valuable skills to offer."

...And congratulations also to The University of Sussex, which has become one of 15 universities across the UK to receive the award. The assessors praised the University’s scholarships for asylum seekers, its world-leading research into sanctuary issues and a Migration Law Clinic offering free advice. Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, said: 'I’m immensely proud of the vital work carried out at Sussex to make a difference to sanctuary seekers and that this has been recognised by City of Sanctuary UK'. He also thanked Judith Townend, a member of the Sanctuary on Sea committee, for working on the successful application.
 Read more here
Job opportunity with ACORN
The union ACORN is looking for a Member Defence Co-ordinator to redress the balance of power between tenants and housing providers in Brighton. ACORN is a mass membership organisation that takes action on issues facing working class communities and as a Co-ordinator for Brighton you'll be responsible for signing up new members. This job requires no formal qualifications. To apply click here.
National news from our Sanctuary network
Refugee Week stories
There was tons of great coverage around the country throughout Refugee Week 2020 celebrating refugees who have settled here. IMIX have a round up of some of the lovely stories that came out which you can find here.
Pitiful increase in asylum support allowance
In June, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced just a 26p daily rise in asylum support. Adding just £1.85 per week to the allowance has been viewed by many refugee support organisations and campaigners as deeply insulting and unjust. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and are expected to survive on less than £40 per week. 220 organisations wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary urging her to reconsider and Refugee Action have shared this powerful video, 'This is an insult, not an increase' from Catherine, an asylum-seeker in the UK. Freedom from Torture have a petition which you can sign here.
Immigration Bill passes House of Commons
The Conservative Party's Immigration Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 30th June and will now be considered by the Lords. The Bill seeks to end free movement to the UK as the country shifts toward a points-based system for immigration in 2021. An amendment to ensure arrangements continue for unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with family members in the UK was also defeated. The Hummingbird Young Leaders in Brighton produced this video in support of the amendment that would have preserved this right.
CoS AGM
The City of Sanctuary network held its annual general meeting (AGM) online on 24th June. Around 80 members from across the country joined in the discussions, which included the discontinuation of the city-wide sanctuary status and the creation of a network of local authorities. The latter was put to members in a vote and was accepted. The full minutes and video of the meeting are now available here.
Refugees under increased surveillance
European countries are increasingly using smartphone surveillance to investigate asylum seekers, either to assess asylum claims or to enforce the EU Dublin III Regulation, new research shows. This practice is facilitated by the use of mobile extraction tools, which allow the download of key data from a smartphone, including contacts, call data, text messages, stored files, location information and more. Read more here.
New research into impact of immigration detention
New research has been published by JRS UK entitled ‘Detained and Dehumanised: The impact of immigration detention’. The report draws from the accounts of 27 forcibly displaced people supported by JRS UK, with direct experience of immigration detention in the UK spanning the last 20 years. You can find more info and the report here.

An amendment to the Immigration Bill proposing a 28 day time limit on detention was defeated in the Commons at the end of June. The UK is the only country in Europe to allows people to be held indefinitely.
Finally, we'd like to remind everyone that the Directory of Services available to refugees and migrants in Brighton and Hove is available online. Please send us any information and updates on changes to existing services or any new activities in response to COVID-19.

This directory lists organisations which offer support to, or are advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. It also lists organisations which offer specific services of interest to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, as well as a small number of refugee- and migrant-led organisations. Please read and share as widely as you can. Please let us know if you would like your service to be included in the directory, or if your existing entry needs updating.
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