Lewisham pledges to become a Borough of Sanctuary
Over 50 representatives of community groups, businesses and the public sector, as well as individuals and refugees, came together on Wednesday 19 June to discuss and pledge to support Lewisham becoming a Borough of Sanctuary.
The event explored the variety of different approaches needed to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees are able to access council services, community support, financial services and businesses.
Councillor Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Democracy, Refugees and Accountability launched the event and co-hosted it with Rosario Guimba-Stewart of Lewisham Refugees and Migrants Network.
‘Our first response should be to offer welcome’
Cllr Bonavia said, ‘Lewisham has a proud history of supporting refugees and migrants. We are a borough which is strengthened by our diversity and the values we hold which enable and empower it. The world is facing the biggest humanitarian crisis since 1945 with over 68 million refugees fleeing war and persecution. Sadly too often the reaction of our country’s authorities and public services has been to create barriers and exclude refugees and other migrants in our society.
‘That’s why in Lewisham we’re determined to create a Borough of Sanctuary that rejects the cruel concept of a “hostile environment” and turns it on its head. Instead of interrogating migrants as to why they are here, our first response should be to offer welcome.
‘This needs to be a community-wide effort with individual residents, our local businesses, charities and public services coming together to pledge support and say how we will each apply the principles of sanctuary.
‘Lewisham Council will play its part. We have already started with our resettlement of 17 refugee families from Syria and Iraq and our commitment to welcome a further 100 families to become London’s leading borough for refugee resettlement.’
Lewisham Migration Forum
As part of our commitment to be an open and welcoming borough, we are part of the Lewisham Migration Forum, which is made up of local organisations that provide services and other support to migrants.
The Lewisham Migration Forum is working to help Lewisham become a Borough of Sanctuary.
We want to follow the principles of the City of Sanctuary movement and encourage as many individuals and organisations as possible to join us in confirming their commitment to making Lewisham a Borough of Sanctuary.
You can find out what we are doing to make Lewisham a Borough of Sanctuary and pledge your support.