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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Celebrating Refugee Week

The launch of refugee week was awesome! We listened to speakers from a wealth of nations, and contributions from the organisations that have emerged over the years to support them. I had a sudden feeling that we had turned a corner in Bradford, and we truly had become a city of sanctuary.

5 years ago, the attitude towards asylum seekers seemed more hostile, and services for them disjointed. Now the opposite is true, with a genuine sense of welcome in the city, and all the voluntary and public bodies mostly singing from the same hymn sheet.

This has been partly due to the work of BEACON, BIASAN, the  Bradford City of Sanctuary movement and the tireless work of Bradford Action for Refugees, but it has been the strength of character of the refugee groups themselves that has really made the difference, exemplified by the work of the refugee forum.

When partying and eating with the sanctuary seekers and refugees in Bradford, one can genuinely be proud to live in a city that has such a positive attitude to those who come from foreign shores. We can learn great wisdom and gain much joy from our encounters with strangers.

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