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North East


26th-28th September 2019

In September 2019, 18 people from sanctuary-seeking backgrounds came together to take part in a three-day Sanctuary in Politics Course held in Durham. With accommodation and catering generously provided by St Chad’s College and space for the facilitated programme by St Aidan’s participants were able to enjoy the experience of learning at the University of Durham.

 With the aim of improving participants’ knowledge of UK politics, campaigning and their confidence to advocate for themselves, the course covered a range of topics in a series of sessions, including:

  • Establishing shared understanding of course values
  • Introduction to the Political History of the UK (emphasis on post-1832 reforms)
  • Equality and diversity in the UK
  • Introduction to the UK media scene and how to engage effectively
  • People, Power & Parliament – An Introduction to the UK Parliament
  • Role of Local Councillor & what you can do
  • Campaigning on human and social rights
  • Introduction to campaigning on refugee/asylum seeker issues

During their stay in Durham, participants had the opportunity to learn from experts in the migration sector, politics and media. Facilitators and presenters came from partner organisations like IMiX, Just Fair, The UK Parliament Outreach team, Newcastle City Council as well the City of Sanctuary staff team.

Between the learning sessions, attendees and CoS team found time for walks in Durham, an open mic night, dancing and lots of laughter and new friendships. Overall, the feedback from attendees has been overwhelming positive with comments like: “every part of the training was exactly what I came for” and “everything was up to marks”  – and most frequent – “Thank you!”

More specifically, participants shared the following anonymous feedback:

“The best thing is that the training not only for giving knowledge but also giving participants opportunity to implement what they have learnt into a learning project. I like the flexibility of the CoS team and their understanding.”

“During this training, I found out that even being an asylum seeker/ refugee, I have more right than I could imagine. And I can make my voice heard. I was Inspired.”

“The best thing was that the staff was approachable and friendly. The most useful thing was the coverage of the topic of parliament.”