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Norfolk Museums Service gain Sanctuary award

Norfolk Museums Service came up with a range of ways to support newcomers to our city to secure a Sanctuary Award. This is their story…

How they became a Museum of Sanctuary

Training staff about migration

Training has been provided by New Routes, a Norwich-based charity which works to foster community links for recently settled refugees. Museum staff undertook training to understand the issues surrounding migration, asylum-seekers and refugees in Norwich, looking at some of the myths and stereotypes that surround the topic.

Putting plans in place for the future

In time, the Museums’ Service would like to work closely with refugees and asylum-seekers to compile a book. It would compare and contrast the stories from present day migrants to those strangers who fled persecution in the 1590s, before finding sanctuary here in Norwich. Strangers’ Hall Museum, which tells their story, also host Refugee Days where schools can learn about Norwich’s rich history of being a city of welcome.

Providing work experience

New Routes teamed up with Strangers’ Hall to give asylum-seekers and refugees valuable experience working on the museum’s annual ‘deep clean’. The group were given training to clean the museum’s artifacts with the utmost care using brushes. The aim was help make connections in the local community and for them to understand more about the history of the city. 

Monthly Museum Club

Working with local charity, English+, a monthly club at The Museum of Norwich has been set up. It offers a venue for migrants to learn about Norwich’s rich history involving ‘Strangers.’ Dutch, Flemish and French refugees fled persecution in the low countries during the 16th Century and settled in Norwich, bringing with them advances in weaving technology.

How could they make refugees welcome?

One key idea was to offer them free access to all of Norwich’s museums through a ‘Welcome Pass’. Opening their doors to them seemed appropriate in a city which has a long tradition of welcoming strangers. It gives refugees and asylum seekers access to all of the museums in Norwich and Norfolk.

Museums can be intimidating if you are new to a city. It was about making them feel comfortable to visit them. They are now part of Norwich’s history and community. Their stories are just as important as the 16th Century Strangers who settled in Norwich.”

Bethan Holdridge

Assistant Curator of Social History