Councillors in Salford have unanimously backed a motion for the area to become a City of Sanctuary at the authority’s full council meeting, a process that must take place to gain official status.
City of Sanctuary is a national charity that builds partnerships between towns and cities to build a network of support for refugees and other people needing help.
Salford is the home of the North West’s Refugee and Asylum Seekers Centre for Healthcare Professionals Education (REACHE), which was launched in 2003 to help refugees and people seeking healthcare professions in the UK.
So far it has helped more than 200 people, mainly doctors, to integrate their overseas qualifications and gain employment in the NHS.
As well as this, the city has two secondary schools and seven primary schools which are recognised as Schools of Sanctuary.
The University of Salford also provides scholarships to people seeking asylum who cannot access student finance and therefore enrolment into higher education.
The motion was proposed by Salford City Council’s Councillor Wilson Nkurunziza, who said:
“In Salford, we celebrate diversity and embrace all people regardless of their background. It is important that people who are fleeing their homes are met with support, care and respect.
“We recognise the contribution of refugees and migrants that make this city the amazing place that it is. In Salford, we have a proud track record of going above the call of duty to support refuges and asylum seekers despite huge pressures on our own budgets and services.
“The failed and unfair dispersal system puts a huge pressure on deprived areas of the country where the most affluent areas do little to help the national effort.
We want to join the network of councils who are promoting the inclusion and welfare of people who are fleeing violence and persecution to officially become a City of Sanctuary.”
Tweeting her support, Salford and Eccles MP, Rebecca Long-Bailey said:
“Well done Wilson Nkurunziza in the passing of his ‘City of Sanctuary’ motion, which recognises the contribution of refugees across the city, encourages strengthening links across communities and calls on gov to end its hostile environment and support those seeking sanctuary.”