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Members of our Awareness Raising group work in schools to raise awareness of the global refugee crisis and the factors driving families and individuals’ need to seek safety. Who are refugees?  Why are they coming here? How can schools help to create a culture of welcome and inclusion?

The sessions helped me to really  appreciate the strife and troubles that others are needlessly forced to experience and just how lucky I am. All it can take is a small contribution, even just a smile, to change that person’s life and welcome them into a society that most are privileged to live in.”   Schoolchild,  Woodwater Academy.

The assembly and session was sensitively handled and caused much thought provoking discussion, both within the workshop and throughout the rest of the week.” Mr. Jenkins (Class Teacher, St. Thomas Primary)

Where we’ve been

Previously we had a strong focus on developing young people’s understanding of the Syrian refugees who were resettled in the UK, and in Exeter-  holding very successful workshops at Alphington, St.Thomas and St. Sidwell’s primary schools, and also with classes at Ladysmith Federation, Woodwater and Exminster.

Since late 2021 however, Exeter has welcomed increasing numbers of refugees and asylum seekers: over 200 people from Ukraine; almost 100 Afghan citizens who had worked closely with the UK Government in Afghanistan, resettled here under the government’s ARAP scheme, and in recent months more than 400 people seeking asylum (mostly women and children) have been placed in temporary hotel accommodation in or on the fringes of the city. Our school assemblies + workshops have been adapted to reflect this change.


making a personal 'hand of welcome' We share information, readings, poetry and videos with children and young people, encouraging them to think about what families and individuals settled here need to help them feel a sense of belonging, particularly in their school context. Art and craft activities play a big part in the workshops. Our school team includes and involves directly speakers who are themselves refugees .

June’23: We had a very full programme of assemblies and workshops at 9 Exeter schools. (see Refugee Week: School Workshops June ’23 .)  As part of these schoolchildren wrote personal messages of support and welcome for refugees and sanctuary seekers living in our city, on orange hearts which were displayed on Exeter quay.  The orange heart is a symbol of compassion and the #TogetherWithRefugees coalition logo.

                                (Photo: Refugee Week Event, Exeter Quayside 24/6/23.  Orange  hearts )

Please contact us by email if you’d like to discuss or arrange a workshop.                                                        

Schools of Sanctuary: If you would like to know more about Schools of Sanctuary, becoming a School of Sanctuary or the award see


Schoolchildren made ‘hands of  welcome’ for our ‘Welcome Tree’ which was displayed at St. Sidwells Community Centre, The Civic Centre, Exeter City Council and as part of the ‘I Welcome ‘ exhibition at St. Petrock’s Church during  Refugee Week  2017.

Tree of Welcome at Exeter City Council’s offices-Civic Centre, Paris St. 

 BOOKS: A selection of recommended books for children and young people that include stories about asylum seekers and refugees from around the world:  Download here:  A_selection_of_books_about_asylum

Books Suitable for Key stages One and Two readers (and older)

  • My Name is Parvana (2)by Deborah Ellis
  • Parvana’s Journey (1) by Deborah Ellis
  • Night Flight by Michaela Morgan
  • Mud City (3) by Deborah Ellis
  • Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond
  • Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
  • The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Under the skin by Catherine McPhail

     For Further info. and Resources :    Please check out the City of Sanctuary UK website for news about the Schools of Sanctuary stream of work nationally and about the Schools of Sanctuary Award. (

Child Refugees Welcome? How schools can help.