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What is City of Sanctuary ?                                                                                                                                                      City of Sanctuary UK  is a movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees and asylum seekers seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. It has established a network of over 100 local groups across UK and Ireland all guided by this vision and it’s UK Charter  which crystallises the values and principles of the movement. (Charter-July-2017)

(Photo: ExCoS AGM, Sept’ 17/ by F. Maisokwadzo)

Exeter City of Sanctuary:  We are part of this national City of  Sanctuary network movement. Our vision is for Exeter to become a genuine City of Sanctuary where all sections of the community are involved in helping to create a culture of warm welcome and safety for asylum seekers and refugees. We recognise the valuable contribution that sanctuary seekers make to Exeter and celebrate the diversity that makes up our city We would like to see more asylum seekers/refugees welcomed to Exeter . (see here for our ‘Key Messages’ /CoS Model of Change)

Exeter has a tradition of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees. In the early 2000’s Exeter welcomed asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq etc. and in 2016  Syrian refugee families were resettled here from refugee camps under both the Government’s Vulnerable  Person’s Resettlement and MENA schemes. Recent years has seen a  significant rise in those coming here -including guests with the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme; Afghan citizens, fleeing the Taliban, evacuated from Kabul in 2021 and asylum seekers temporarily accommodated in the city.   Additionally some unaccompanied young asylum seekers have already been brought to safety in Exeter and Devon. We wish to celebrate and extend this welcoming response by the city’s people and organisations, building on the excellent care and support already given to refugees and asylum seekers through 3rd sector organisations like Refugee Support Devon, Devon Ukrainian Association, Hikmat Devon CIC. 

What we do

  • We seek to raise awareness of some of the needs, challenges and injustices facing refugees and asylum seekers through talks, workshops, events, social media, newsletters and through our work in schools.
  • Through our advocacy and campaigning we work to influence the community, local and national policy makers to take the needs, rights and voices of ASRs into account.
  • We work closely with Refugee Support Devon and some other organisations and community groups from across different sectors of the Exeter community. We wish to build upon the great work that is already being done across the city, developing further alliances and supporting local organisations to consider practical actions they can take to make their activities more inclusive and/or responsive to the needs of people seeking sanctuary, both here and internationally.

Exeter City of Sanctuary is developing a strong supporter base of individuals and organisations across the city. The group formally established as a charitable association  (unincorporated) in 2016.  (click on link here to see our constitution:  ExCoS  Constitution   

Pledge Your Support:

We invite you, whether you are a business, a local organisation or an individual to pledge your support and become involved. You can also sign up to our mailing list and receive updates on news and events happening in Exeter City of Sanctuary.There are many ways organisations and people can help -see here for ideas of how you can become involved:

Refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK : Who are we talking about?

There is frequently confusion about terms like ‘refugees’, ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘migrants’.  They are often used interchangeably. However there are differences between an ‘asylum seeker’, a refugee and a migrant?  See Video : ‘What does it mean to be a refugee?‘     (ref: international law/camps/resettlement/.)

Also see here :

Further information, documents and resources on international, national and local immigration, asylum and refugee policies and issues are in our website’s  ‘Resources’ section.