From Syria to Sutton: Area of Sanctuary’s support for refugees

Asylum seekers and refugees enjoyed a break in Sutton on Sea in August, thanks to the Sanctuary Breaks Scheme.
Asylum seekers and refugees enjoyed a break in Sutton on Sea in August, thanks to the Sanctuary Breaks Scheme.

The Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary - which began its life in Louth - has been able to support refugees and asylum seekers thanks to a grant from a national news organisation.

In October 2016, East Lindsey Area of Sanctuary group (which later expanded to include the whole of Greater Lincolnshire) received the £1,000 grant from the Guardian’s ‘City of Sanctuary’ appeal.

This enabled the group to develop its ‘Sanctuary Breaks Scheme’ - which matches asylum seekers dispersed to Leeds, Leicester and Wolverhampton with a host family in Lincolnshire, allowing them to spend a week or weekend together.

The host families learn about new cultures, share the English culture and language, and introduce their guests to Lincolnshire’s countryside, beaches and market towns.

The grant covered transport for five single people and seven families to enjoy 22 short breaks.

Furthermore, the grant enabled a ‘befriending day’ to take place in August last year, involving pupils at King Edward VI Grammar School and young refugees from Leicester and Leeds.

They participated in an international art project, enjoyed a lunch provided by volunteers at Spout Yard,and basked in perfect weather in Sutton on Sea.

The befriending day was also partially funded by a generous grant from Louth Town Council, to enable young people in the local area to learn more about the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in the UK.

A second round of Guardian funding has now been awarded, with the Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary receiving £3,500 to organise a ‘language retreat’ for 10 sanctuary seekers and 10 local befrienders, including trained ESOL (English as a second or foreign language) teachers.

They will stay in a youth hostel or a similar venue for a weekend, and work on English skills through playing games, conversation, and formal and informal English lessons.

The Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary has thanked the local community for its ongoing goodwill and support.