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A ‘Community of Sanctuary’

caring, shelter and sanctuary for all who live in our place

In 2017, we joined the nationwide movement ‘City of Sanctuary’, which seeks to build a strong network across the land to nurture a narrative of kindness, support and hospitality towards those seeking refuge and towards all our fellow citizens.

Hastings Supports Refugees has been sending help to thousands of people seeking refuge in France and Greece since 2015,  and is both impetus for and foundation of our becoming a City of Sanctuary, standing behind our ongoing schemes to expand awareness, and support where it is needed, both at home in our town and abroad. You can like the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook Group to keep up to date with events and activities across Hastings Community of Sanctuary.

We have been building upon existing initiatives, including the Links project which has for many years been helping refugees and those applying for asylum in our town, and developing new ones.  In Summer 2017,  the buddy project now designated as The Refugee Buddy Project: Hastings, Rother and Wealden was set up to welcome into the community Syrian families arriving through the Syrian Resettlement Programme. This project has become a thriving and multifaceted source of strong, practical and communal support for those families, and in September 2020, achieved charitable status. From Autumn 2017 until Summer 2018, we ran Hastings Debates, a series of public talks about ways in which we can understand people’s need for refuge, and the policies being enacted, with international speakers including war correspondents, authors, artists, film makers.  We have maintained since then a constant presence in our local media with comment and reportage on many topics around the issues involved and on what we are doing on the ground to tackle these. This includes keeping active contact with our Parliamentary representative, and active campaigning at local and national level from our Campaigns team, currently working on two national campaigns, the Lift the Ban campaign to allow people seeking asylum the right to work, and the campaign to end Indefinite Immigration Detention and bring in a 28-day limit. In Refugee Week in June we hold our  ‘Festival by the Lake‘, inaugurated in 2017, and which has rapidly expanded to attendances in 2018 and 2019 of around 1000 people, followed by an online Festival in 2020. The festival resumed in its original form in 2021, and most recently -with its new name ‘Sanctuary Festival’ – at the end of Refugee Week in 2022. The Festival offers a day of celebration of our town as a welcoming place for those seeking sanctuary with us.

From 2018-2022 we campaigned actively: on the right to work of people seeking asylum, as part of the national Lift the Ban coalition: on immigration detention including Napier Barracks:  and, as a member of the national Together with Refugees coalition,  on the Nationality and Borders Bill (passed into law in May 2022 and now an Act of Parliament) -see here.

For all refugees who arrive here we are committed to making ours a place where they may thrive and build relationships with the local communities.

We welcome expressions of support and interest in contributing to this work.

You can join us here.

Latest News – see our News and Blog page