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Celebrating welcome and sanctuary during Covid 19

We, the undersigned, come together to state our shared commitment to recognising the vital role that migrants have played for centuries in the culture and economy of our city, and the great benefits they bring our city during the current crisis. We stand together against the pockets of discrimination and scapegoating of migrants that, sadly, continue to blight our wonderful and welcoming city.
We are determined to ensure that all incidents of discrimination can be safely reported and are grateful for the work of many organisations to enable this. We are also aware that a lot more needs to be done to reduce incidents of discrimination, to encourage reporting, and also to showcase the culture of welcome, and contribution of migrants, that is prevalent in the city.

Norwich City of Sanctuary
Norwich City Council
The UEA University of Sanctuary
Norfolk Community Law Service
Norwich Integration Partnership (The Bridge Plus+, English+, New Routes Integration)
Norwich Pride
Norfolk Schools of Sanctuary
Norwich International Youth Project
Norfolk and Suffolk Victim Care
Norfolk Museums Service

The past few months have been incredibly difficult for everyone. We are delighted to see the support and recognition for the amazing work of NHS staff, delivery drivers and so many other key workers during this unprecedented time.
We also want to recognise the vital contributions that refugees and asylum seekers as well as many others who have migrated to our wonderful city are making to keep people safe and to build a culture of welcome.
Norwich has a long history of welcoming immigrants, including those fleeing war and persecution, into the city. Since 2015, the cityโ€™s libraries, museums, schools, community groups, charities and others have been working with the City Council to make Norwich a true City of Sanctuary. We are part of a network of over 100 groups around the country building a culture and a practice of welcome in their villages, towns and cities.
During the lockdown, refugees who have made Norwich their home are doing what they can to assist in the fight against Covid 19.

Case studies
Mr Odon is a tailor by profession, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who re-trained as a Mental Health Care worker. For 8 years he worked in a residential care home for people with learning difficulties before starting his own business, a tailoring shop. Due to the pandemic his shop is closed so he has returned to work as a mental health support worker on a regular basis.
Mr Odon says:
โ€œI came to this country as a refugee; our homes were destroyed and we had nothing left but our integrity. This country gave me and my family a safe home, I very much appreciate it and I go out every day in these hard times to look after people with learning difficulties because I believe they need me and I worry about them as much as I worry about my family.โ€

Dolly, originally from Colombia, has worked as a care worker for 20 years. When the pandemic started she began volunteering as a befriender for older people affected by loneliness and isolation. She is saddened that some elderly people go for days without seeing or talking to anyone. Even though she works night shifts she has also joined the army of shopping volunteers to help neighbours in Norwich during the lockdown.

Their stories are just a small example of how refugees are playing their part in fighting the pandemic.

Norfolk Community Law Service are working with Norwich City of Sanctuary to offer free legal advice for anyone who has experienced discrimination. They are also working with
the UEA University of Sanctuary group to help overcome any type of racist attitudes and
actions, including those related to the recent coronavirus context.

Contacts for reporting racist incidents:

To find out more and to add your name to this statement, please contact us via email [email protected]