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Your Monthly Update - March 2020

Dear <<First Name>>, 
I spent the last weekend of February in Calais volunteering with Care4Calais which takes out supplies daily to refugees living in the area. The crisis in northern France has fallen out of the media but the situation there remains desperate and there are no signs of improvement. It's been a cold and wet winter, with France experiencing storms like we have had in the UK. Refugees face a difficult decision between sticking out the winter in France or making the perilous journey across the Channel to the UK in even worse conditions.

Care4Calais continue to do amazing work on the ground, but as CEO Claire Mosely explained whilst I was there, they cannot do this forever. They need people to spread the message, challenge damaging narratives about refugees in the UK and persuade our policy makers to implement changes. This is a big task, but the City of Sanctuary movement is an important part of this as we encourage our towns, cities and institutions to become as welcoming as possible.

Another way to get involved in the fight back against the hostile environment is to join us in making Brighton Refugee Week 2020 the biggest one yet. Planning is now underway and if you have any ideas for celebrating the richness that refugees bring to our city or want to be involved in any way, do get in touch with us via We had lots of fun last year at our Together Day - pictured above - and we have lovely photos from the day you can view here.

Some good news this month is that refugees are now able to vote in Scotland. At the end of February, the Scottish Parliament passed a bill extending the right to vote to all foreign nationals with permanent residency, including those granted refugee status. This makes them eligible to vote in local elections as well as the national Scottish Parliament. They will also be able to stand for election themselves. Scotland joins a very small number of countries which currently allow this - the others are mainly in Scandinavia. Watch a video explainer about the bill here

Enjoy the newsletter.

Best wishes,

Ruby Cardona Senker
Sanctuary on Sea volunteer 

In the newsletter this month:

We try to promote any refugee or migration-related event going on in the city by sharing on our Facebook page. If you would like us to promote your event or flag a campaign, just drop us a message.

Don't forget you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
Local Updates 
Plan Refugee Week 2020 with us!
We held two planning meetings recently which were well attended and people had lots of ideas and energy. Both groups felt strongly that we should go and ask refugee communities what they would like for Refugee Week. We will also shortly be recruiting two people for two freelance roles: coordinator and communications manager. Thanks to SEAS and Euromernet for hosting us! If you're interested in the week get in touch at or our Brighton Refugee Week Facebook page - we'd love to hear from you.
Facebook group - welcoming refugees in Brighton & Hove 
We have set up a new private Facebook group for people seeking sanctuary in Brighton & Hove (refugees and asylum seekers) and those who would like to help make them welcome. For example, someone might post that they need a bike and somebody might offer a bike in return. You can join here 
Information on local services for asylum-seekers
Our friends at the Migrant ESOL Support Hub (MESH) in Brighton have put together handy information sheets with all services available to help refugees and asylum-seekers to settle into the city. They are available in three languages: Arabic, English and Farsi - click here to view them on our website

Alison Kelly, a MESH case worker, invited newly arrived asylum seekers and organisations who could support them to an event at Jubilee Library earlier this month. Representatives of organisations such as Refugee Radio, Hummingbird project, Sussex Interpreting Services and Voices in Exile explained to new arrivals what was available to support them on each day of the week, including free lunches. 

The sanctuary seekers were delighted to hear about what was available in the city: they said that several of those who did not attend were too depressed or even scared to leave their hostels. They were particularly keen to hear about opportunities to take exercise as they had been shocked at the fees charged by gyms which are prohibitive for people surviving on £35 a week. Each of the sanctuary seekers left with their own bag of toiletries and small gifts collected by the staff of the Jubilee Library, which is in the process of applying for recognition as a library of sanctuary. Read more about the work MESH does here.

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group auction
This year Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group is marking 25 years of visiting people in detention at the Gatwick immigration centre less than an hour from Brighton. The group's volunteers have provided support for the people trapped there and campaigned against the inhumanity of the detention system. The group have also published a series of poignant books, Refugee Tales, featuring the stories of refugees whose lives have been impacted by detention in this country. To celebrate their anniversary, they are planning lots of exciting events throughout 2020 and have launched an online auction where there are experience days, signed books, unique artwork, handmade crafts and many more items to be won. The auction ends on 31st March 2020 so get bidding!

Sussex Interpreting Services
Sussex Interpreting Services has a vision 'of an inclusive society where people of all cultural and linguistic backgrounds are able to live in harmony, play a full and valued role and enjoy the same rights' and a mission 'to enable full access, for people with language needs, to publicly funded service in order to improve health, education and overall quality of life'. In 2020, SIS is celebrating 25 years of service delivery.

core service is the provision of face-to-face interpreting services mainly to local NHS and council services but also to third sector organisations, lawyers and courts, police, and schools. They can also provide emergency interpreting, translation, social prescribing, advocacy and community research. These services are all underpinned by a volunteering programme.

SIS have embedded the values of community, rights, accountability, learning, participation and inclusion into everything they do and have recently complemented these values with four ethical principles; beneficiaries first, integrity, openness and the right to be safe.

SIS offers an inclusive service to any migrants and does not ask about immigration status or length of stay in the UK. They operate a unique self-referral system for migrants to request linguistic help

phone:              01273 702005 and 01273 234825

e mail:    
website:   (replace Bengali with target language)
facebook: (replace Russian with the target language)
in person:         SIS Drop-In
Report recommends a refugee-led mental health service
Race on The Agenda (ROTA) has released a new report recommending a refugee-led mental health service. The new report, Hardly Hard to Reach details findings from ROTAs three-year Active Lives, Healthy Minds project. A refugee-led service would involve being intersectional, acknowledging how gender, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, refugee or asylum-seeker status and levels of English language affect people's experiences. It would also mean working in a linguistically inclusive way, being culturally sensitive, involving community members at all levels and resisting racist hostile environment policies.

Similar recommendations were made by Brighton and Hove's Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which found that mental health needs were significant for migrants. Destitution and undesirable housing situations, such as sharing with strangers, were found to be causes of poor mental health. Preventing social isolation was also a need for maintaining migrants' wellbeing. Read the assessment here
Dream of the UK: Refugees in northern France 
Cath Senker has blogged about
her recent trip to Calais which you
can read here
Coming up in Brighton & Hove
STAR/ One World, Monday 16th March 
To celebrate One World week at Sussex University, STAR (Student Action for Refugees) are back to kick start the week in 2020 with an exciting multi-media event to celebrate the contributions of refugees to society and raise awareness of the issues they face. They have partnered up with Counterpoints Arts to host two incredible artistst: singer/songwriter Haymanot Tesfa and poet/comedian Edin Suljic.

Paul Hutchings, co-founder of the Brighton-based organisation Refugee Support Europe and member of Sanctuary on Sea will also be discussing his experiences and Refugee Support's work, followed by a Q&A.

Entry is £3 cash donation on the door. All funds raised will be split between STAR and Refugee Support Europe. More info here
BAME employment and skills fair, Wednesday 18th March
Are you from a black, minority ethnic, refugee or migrant background and seeking education, training or work opportunities? Come along to this jobs fair at the BMECP Centre (10a Fleet Street, Brighton BN1 4ZE). It's free to attend but you need to register here.
Patients Not Passports: Standing Up For Migrant Healthcare, Thursday 19th March
This evening hosted by Medact Brighton will bring together people working to fight racism and improve access to healthcare across the city. You'll hear from organisations and individuals doing fantastic work in Brighton and beyond tackling the hostile environment within our health systems, from unfair medical charges to migrants to health workers being encouraged to act as extensions of the border police. Following the speakers there will be the opportunity to discuss in small groups ideas and plans for ending the hostile environment in health. The local Jollof Café will be serving delicious vegan food for a small donation. Everyone is welcome, whether you're a seasoned campaigner or new to activism and want to start getting involved in the fight against the hostile environment. The event is at the Brighton Friends Meeting House, Ship St, BN11AF. This venue is wheelchair accessible. 

It's free to attend but please register here.

Conversation café - final date, Wednesday 25th March
Do you want to practice English in a safe, fun group and meet other women? Would you like to be able to speak everyday English more easily? The Jubilee Library run a regular English language class for women. It's free and runs on Wednesdays 1 - 2.30pm. 25th March 2020 will be the final date for this course. The class is suitable for people at all levels of English. The library is located at Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE.
Your City, Your Art? Tuesday 31st March
The one day annual cultural summit, “Your City, Your Art?” from Brighton & Hove City Council, in partnership with urbanflo creative, focuses on inclusive practice in the arts and offers a platform for artists and communities who have limited opportunities to showcase their work and share their stories. The summit will feature a series of presentations, discussions, artist-led workshops, performances, exhibitions and screenings and is on Monday 30th March 2020 at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) from 9.30 - 4.30. If you are attending the summit, come and say hi to us at the stall we are sharing with Hummingbird Refugee Project.
Regular events in Brighton & Hove
Sanctuary Café, Saturdays 
The new Sanctuary Café runs once a month on Saturday afternoons at the Hove Methodist church (Portland Rd, Hove BN3 5NF). The idea is to create a space where people can share food and friendship with people seeking safety in our city. Food is veggie and free or with donation. The next one will be Saturday 14 March from 5pm.

See all the dates for 2020 here.
Maté Café, Saturdays
The Mate Café intercultural social club is now on the first Saturday of each month. It serves delicious vegan Syrian food and mate tea (2.30 - 5.30pm) at the Cowley Club (12 London Rd, Brighton BN1 4JA). Entertainment is also provided in the form of live music, dance/ music workshops and activities for children. See upcoming dates here.
Global Social Club, Mondays
The GSC is a youth club for 14 - 25 year olds across the city run in collaboration between the Hummingbird Project, Refugee Council, Pathways to Independence and the Young Peoples Centre. They put on a range of fun, interactive sessions throughout the year open to all. It takes place on Mondays 5 - 7pm at Brighton Youth Centre (69 Ship St, Brighton BN1 1AE). More info here.
Jollof Café, Tuesdays
The Jollof serves delicious vegan African food at just £4 a meal in support of destitute migrants at the Cowley Club from 12.30pm every Tuesday. The Cowley is located at 12 London Rd, Brighton BN1 4JA.
Sussex Interpreting Services drop in, Tuesdays
Sussex Interpreting Services offer free interpreting, translation and English language services and support a wide range of languages. Find out more here. They also run a regular drop-in every Tuesday from 11-1pm. More info on the drop-in here
The Real Junk Food Café, Wednesdays
Hosted on Wednesdays at St John the Baptist Parish Hall in collaboration with Brighton Voices in Exile and Brighton Table Tennis Club, the Real Junk Food Project turn food that would otherwise have been wasted into delicious meals cooked by professional chefs. The meal is pay-as-you-feel and leftover produce is available to take away on a donation basis. The hall is located at 2 Bristol Rd, Brighton BN2 1AP.

The Network of International Women for Brighton & Hove, Wednesdays
The network provides a space for women from different cultures and backgrounds to meet, share experiences and support one another. Come along to sew, knit, make crafts and chat on Wednesdays, 10am - 12 at Jubilee Library Jubilee St, Brighton BN1 1GE. Free to attend. Contact 

National news from our Sanctuary network
Save the date! City of Sanctuary Conference and AGM 2020
The City of Sanctuary conference and AGM will take place on Wednesday 24th June, 10am-4pm at Kala Sangam Arts Centre, St Peter’s House, 1 Forster Square, Bradford BD1 4TY. There is more information about getting to the venue here.  If you would like to join us at the Conference, please get in touch. If you are a refugee or asylum seeker, we can cover your travel costs.
The truth about asylum - new stats released
Do you known which country most refugees in the UK originate from? Or what percentage were granted asylum last year? The new package of stats about asylum in the UK has been released by the Refugee Council and people are encouraged to share them to tackle misinformation about the asylum system. Read more here. 
National Energy Action launch project to support refugees to keep warm at home
Empowered by Energy, a project run by the National Energy Action (NEA) to support refugees and asylum seekers to ensure they can keep warm in their homes while living independently is looking for participants to take part in their pilot project. Find out more here.
Sanctuary in politics 2020 cohort
On Saturday 29th February, 18 participants with lived experience graduated from the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside Sanctuary in Politics course, held at St Aidan’s College, Durham. Sanctuary on Sea will host a Sanctuary in Politics course in Brighton later this year, in partnership with our friends at Hummingbird Refugee Project. Watch this space!
Asylum-seeking women made destitute - report
Nearly one third of asylum-seeking women told researchers they had been raped or sexually abused in their country of origin and again when destitute in the UK in this new report by Women for Refugee Women. 'Will I ever be safe? Asylum-seeking women made destitute in the UKexplores the experiences of 106 destitute asylum-seeking women who have struggled to survive in the UK. People are encouraged to share the report online with the hashtag #SistersNotStrangers
The costs of destitution 
The British Red Cross has published a new report 'The costs of destitution: a cost–benefit analysis of extending the move-on period for new refugees'.
The organisation has long protested at the 28-day move-on period for new refugees, arguing that this is not long enough for people to find alternative means of supporting themselves, signing on for Universal Credit, and securing accommodation before losing their Home Office support. In this report, they recommend giving refugees four additional weeks of support. Extending the move-on period to 56 days could result in net annual benefits of between £4 million and £7 million to the UK. 
Directory of Services

Finally, we'd like to remind everyone that the Directory of Services available to refugees and migrants in Brighton and Hove is available online.

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.
Copyright © 2020 Sanctuary on Sea, All rights reserved.

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