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“We have a rich history in Manchester of welcoming and supporting refugees”

People who fled war-torn countries – running from unthinkable persecution – have made Manchester their home.

For them, our city is a place of acceptance.

They’ve been welcomed with open arms and offered the chance of a new life.

The City of Sanctuary charity, which operates across the UK, creates networks to provide ‘support, dignity and welcome’ to refugees.

It is a true lifeline.

Manchester, City of Sanctuary

Manchester is now set to officially become a City of Sanctuary.

Manchester councillors voted through the plan at the latest town hall meeting – making a commitment to remain a place where all are accepted and are safe.

People who have fled to the city shared their stories.

All are now Mancunians – and always will be.

Andy Muzandiwa, from Zimbabwe, said the charity was a beacon of hope. He told the council chamber he had lost friends to alcoholism and the streets, but he was able to push on.

How Manchester is helping refugees and asylum seekers

Manchester representatives of the City of Sanctuary network helped him find accommodation and access to education.

“This shows that in life you can make a powerful change,” Andy said.

Andy was not alone in his admiration for the organisation that has given him so much.

Manizah Rahimi, who fled Afghanistan, said: “I left my home without anything because we had to leave right then. It was horrible and dangerous for us.

“We landed at 3 am here in the UK. They provided water for my children.

“After that, we went to London, then luckily, I arrived in Manchester and saw a brilliant team.

“They were respectful and really caring – they did everything for us.”

Mariia Semeniuk, a Homes for Ukraine guest, sought sanctuary in Manchester. She came here on March 3 having travelled through Poland and Germany.

“I’m very glad to be here and very appreciative of all the people of Manchester,” she said.

The motion was unanimously passed.

Manchester’s multicultural identity

Liz Hibberd, strategic and partnership lead for Manchester City of Sanctuary, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Manchester City Council unanimously passed a motion to begin the process of becoming a Local Authority of Sanctuary.

“This is a real cause for celebration and recognises the importance of creating and embedding a culture of welcome for those seeking sanctuary.

“It’s also an opportunity to consider what more can be done to support people in the asylum process and where services can be improved.

“It was an honour to hear from people with lived experience of forced displacement and how the people and the city of Manchester have welcomed them with open arms.

“At a time when the cruel Illegal Immigration Bill is being debated in Parliament, Manchester City Council are pushing back and saying that asylum seekers and refugees have a home in our great city.

“It demonstrates empathy not apathy, kindness and compassion and a dogged determination to do the right thing.”

Coun Joanna Midgley, deputy council leader, said: “We have a long and rich history in Manchester of welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers that have been displaced.

“We are proud to be a sanctuary and a home for anyone fleeing persecution and those who are striving for a better life.

“Manchester is a place of wonderful diversity, a city that speaks over 200 languages, and we recognise the contribution that our communities collectively bring to the fabric of our city.

“We believe it is important that we create a society that builds bridges between our residents regardless of background, language or religion.

“Becoming a Local Authority of Sanctuary is a commitment that we will always be a place of refuge and a place of compassion.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the City of Sanctuary organisation to ensure our city’s arms are open to those that need our help.”

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