Barnet councillors unanimously passed a motion to work towards becoming an accredited Borough of Sanctuary at the last full council meeting (January 24).
In recent years, the council has helped support the resettlement of 50 individuals through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and hosted almost 1,000 Ukrainian refugees through Barnet’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Borough of Sanctuary status is awarded by City of Sanctuary UK External link to organisations and areas, that go above and beyond to welcome those seeking a safe place to live.
Cllr Nagus Narenthira, Deputy Mayor of Barnet said: “I first came to the UK in 1987 and since then I have built my life in Barnet. I have found Barnet to be welcoming of me and my family and the diversity of the borough made my integration here enjoyable. Barnet has been a place of sanctuary for me, and I hope that through this work, it will continue to be for others.”
Nazee Akbari, CEO New Citizens’ Gateway said: “Barnet Council and New Citizens’ Gateway work in partnership to provide asylum seekers and refugees with the opportunity to rebuild their lives in Barnet. We are proud to be part of such a welcoming borough and we look forward to Barnet becoming a recognised Borough of Sanctuary.”
The Persian Advice Bureau said: “We are proud to work alongside Barnet Council to support asylum seekers and refugees in Barnet. As a diverse and welcoming borough, the time is right for Barnet to initiate becoming a Borough of Sanctuary and we look forward to working together to achieve this.”
Barnet has been working on various areas of help for refugees and providing outreach support to asylum seekers:
Working with the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector (VCFS) to support the integration of those arriving in Barnet on the Hong Kong BN(O) visa scheme
Provision of drop-in and other support through the Barnet Together VCFS network, Barnet Multi-Faith Forum, Citizens UK, Nisa Nashim and faith spaces such as: New North London Synagogue, Finchley Progressive Synagogue and Hendon Synagogue Community Centre, who work together and separately to provide welcome and practical support for refugees and asylum seekers including legal signposting, food, clothes, community spaces, and cultural events
Commissioning New Citizens Gateway and Persian Advice Bureau to support asylum seekers
Resettling five refugee families through the Afghanistan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
The council is now part of the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network, and will continue to work with partners, community groups and residents to develop a vision for welcoming and supporting those seeking sanctuary in Barnet.