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Bradford becomes University of Sanctuary

Published: Thur 21 Dec 2017

Bradford has become one of the first universities in the UK to be awarded University of Sanctuary status.

The award recognises the University’s work to ensure that it fosters a culture of welcome and inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees.

It follows five years of work by the University’s Sanctuary Working Group, training staff and developing learning packages to educate staff and students and helping to develop Sanctuary Scholarships. The scholarships enable people seeking asylum, or those already granted refugee status who cannot access student finance, to participate in higher education.

Other initiatives that have contributed to Bradford joining the national Universities of Sanctuary network include the Pennies in the Salary scheme that contributes to a hardship fund, the provision of allotment space for scholarship students, local asylum seekers and refugees speaking to students and the creation of elements in the midwifery curriculum raising awareness of asylum seekers and refugees and their needs.

Bradford is already a City of Sanctuary and the University has developed strong links, including encouraging students to take up volunteering opportunities to help welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers in the city.

Refugee and asylum-seeking students often have major obstacles to overcome to get to university, and Emily Wood’s story is particularly powerful. When her uncle was killed in South Africa in 2002, she fled to the UK for what she thought would be a couple of weeks. 14 years later she remains an asylum seeker and has yet to be given indefinite leave to remain. She is a social work undergraduate and is combining her studies with a lead role in a touring theatre production.

Dr Mel Cooper, chair of the University of Sanctuary working group, said: “We’re delighted to achieve University of Sanctuary status and particularly pleased that we are one of the first in the country to do so. We have worked very hard to provide the help and support that we do for refugees and asylum seekers and it is testimony to that work that we have enabled 16 to be students here, more than anywhere else in the country.”

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