Published: Monday, 18th December 2023
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has officially been awarded Borough of Sanctuary status, in a unanimous panel decision by the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network.
This means that Royal Greenwich has been recognised as a place that welcomes and values the contribution of refugees, migrants and those seeking sanctuary.
We have been working towards becoming a Borough of Sanctuary since a motion was passed by all cross-party councillors in 2021. The launch of our policy to support refugees, migrants and asylum seekers earlier this year was the final step in this process.
This award is not only recognition for the substantial policy and practice changes we have made as a Council, but it is also confirmation of our commitment to making sure that Royal Greenwich continues to be inclusive and welcoming, that we are meeting people’s specific needs, and that we will continue to listen to and amplify the voices of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
At a time of increased pressure on those with uncertain immigration status, being awarded Borough of Sanctuary status is something for the Council and the local community to be hugely proud of.
Across the borough, you’ll see the influence of our refugee and migrant communities everywhere you go. You can taste it in our restaurants, hear it in the languages spoken on our streets. You can watch it at the amazing music and dance performances at events and venues across the borough and feel it in our community spirit.
Our goal is that refugees, asylum seekers and migrants are able to fulfil their potential and contribute to Royal Greenwich’s community, culture, and economy, while living in safety and security.
Mr X, who came to Royal Greenwich as a refugee from Afghanistan, said:
“My family and I would like to thank the Royal Borough of Greenwich for their support in housing us and providing additional support services to help settle us here.
We have been through a very traumatic experience in leaving Afghanistan, the memories of which continue to impact myself and my wife. However, we are grateful for having been given a home, in the safety of which we can overcome our trauma and rebuild our lives.
Many thanks for the ongoing support and assistance”.
Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult’s Social Care said:
“I am delighted that the Council has achieved Borough of Sanctuary status. Our teams have worked very hard and we have made numerous changes across all directorates and departments so we could achieve this goal.
Whilst reviewing policies and procedures, we’ve worked closely with local partners and organisations to make sure our services are accessible. We will continue to do this, as well as identify national policy issues where we can work collectively to encourage and enable change.”
Cllr Anthony Okereke, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich said:
“Royal Greenwich has a proud tradition of welcoming people fleeing violence and persecution. We will not turn our back on people who need our help.
As the government continues to ramp up hostility towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, we must continue to fight back. Councils across the country have a key role to play in standing up for and protecting people’s rights, and I would urge them to follow suit in becoming a Borough or City of Sanctuary.”
We are proud to celebrate the wonderful achievements and contributions that refugees, migrants and asylum seekers have made to our borough and beyond. That’s why we are in the process of planning a celebration to mark our status as a Borough of Sanctuary.
Keep your eyes peeled for this in the coming months. If you have lived experience as a refugee or asylum seeker in Royal Greenwich and would like to be involved in the planning of this celebration, or to share your story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.