Sanctuary Meetings project challenges the 'hostile environment'

By agency reporter
August 2, 2017

Quakers in Britain have this week announced a new project to challenge the government policy of creating a 'hostile environment' for newcomers to Britain, and to replace it instead with a culture of welcoming hospitality.

The new Sanctuary Meetings project – launched at the Quakers' 1400-strong Yearly Meeting Gathering at Warwick University – invites local Quaker communities to commit to building a culture of welcome, challenging racism in all of its forms, and to working together to change the laws on destitution, detention and deportation.

Recognising the action being taken by many Quakers across Britain, local meetings will be provided with training support, regular teleconferences to learn from one-another and an annual retreat to reflect and recuperate.

The project also provides the framework to campaign on a joint manifesto for change, including restrictions on the use of immigration detention and the right for asylum seekers to work.

Although the form of each Sanctuary Meeting is different, every meeting is united in the effort to persuade politicians to change the laws that sanction state violence against people not born in Britain.

In a video released to mark the launch, York Quaker and peace activist Kurt Strauss who was as a child helped by Quakers to escape Nazi persecution in 1939 explains: “To me sanctuary means giving help and assistance, not only to people fleeing from persecution but also people fleeing discrimination, from violence, from anything where they need protection. If you're thinking of becoming a Sanctuary Meeting I would encourage you to go ahead."

*Follow Yearly Meeting Gathering online here and on Facebook

* Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

*Quakers in Britain


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