Swindon City of Sanctuary have been given 5 years funding from the National Lottery to help make the town more welcoming and inclusive.
Local community group, Swindon City of Sanctuary (SCOS), is celebrating after being awarded funding to support its work helping to welcome people who are fleeing war and persecution to find safety in the town.
The group - based in Swindon town Centre - say they will use the funds to bring the national City of Sanctuary scheme of Sanctuary Awards to sectors across the town.
The Sanctuary Awards are said to focus on encouraging the town’s communities to come together to embed the concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within their professions, sectors, and organisations. National accreditation of a Sanctuary Award is gained through following a series of guidelines:
1. Learn about what it means to be seeking sanctuary, migration and Swindon’s diverse, multicultural community
2. Take positive action to embed concepts of welcome, safety and inclusion within the organisation, profession or sector
3. Be proud to share the vision and achievements
The Awards will focus on schools and libraries for the first 3 years of funding. The funding aims to enable the charity to employ new staff, to help to safeguard the future of the charity but also to significantly increase the positive impact that SCOS have across the Swindon community.
Swindon City of Sanctuary has been running since 2016 and became a registered charity in 2018. They are staffed by 2 employees with 2 additional roles now being advertised (thanks to funding from the Wiltshire Community Foundation too) and a dedicated team of volunteers and Board of Trustees.
The Swindon community group grew from a group of local people who were compelled to support the increasing numbers of people from across the world seeking refuge - as war, hunger, political turmoil and climate change have continued to drive people from their homes and families.
Since 2016 it is estimated that over 1,000 people and organisations in Swindon have supported Swindon City of Sanctuary’s cause, and have worked with the charity to make Swindon a welcoming and inclusive place for all no matter who they are or where they have come from.
Alongside the new Sanctuary Awards, Swindon City of Sanctuary runs an evening social project called ‘We’re Open’, at The Bakers cafe every Thursday evening. Open to all, it is a place for the community to meet, have free hot drinks, play boardgames and listen to live music.
The charity also run the FAB! (Family Activity Boxes) project which began during the first lockdown and now provides resources for EAL children in schools. With over 130 languages spoken in Swindon, SCOS says the FABs are a welcome addition for schools. Schools can use the FABs – which contain a mixture of kinaesthetic, literacy and oracy puzzles, games, activities and multilingual books – to support their work with multilingual children.
The FAB project also assists schools in setting-up culturally supportive learning environments through Global Libraries, encouraging schools to invest in a range of culturally diverse books (ie. books with positive role models for all young people; and / or books written by writers from culturally diverse backgrounds).
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK, will see Swindon City of Sanctuary’s work expand across the town, affect how services will engage with the public, and help to support organisations in their EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) journeys.
Nicola Wood, Charity Manager said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with exciting plans, one that is community led through our Sanctuary Awards.
"We believe through better understanding of each other we can bridge divides and truly be a beacon of welcome and hope in our town. The funding will allow us to expand our positive reach across the community, and we look forward to partnering with the National Lottery Community Fund over the coming months and years.”
There are also opportunities to join Swindon City of Sanctuary at this exciting time through two paid roles for a ‘Streams and Awards Co-ordinator’ and a ‘Volunteer Co-ordinator’, or as a volunteer on their trustee board.