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© RSC / R Bradenbrink

We are delighted to report that the recent Oxford Sanctuary Fair was a great success!  Held at Oxford Town Hall on 11 May, this collaborative, free, all-day drop-in event was hosted by Asylum Welcome, the Refugee Studies Centre, and Oxford City Council. It aimed to connect refugees, students and the local community, and provide an opportunity to learn more about refugee issues and how we can all make a difference.

Panel discussions and interactive workshops took place featuring students, academics, activists, politicians, community leaders, and influencers, many of whom have experienced displacement first-hand. Topics discussed included ‘Arriving, surviving, and thriving in Oxford’, ‘The political landscape of migrant rights in the UK’, ‘Access to education for refugees and asylum seekers’, ‘Hosting refugees in Oxfordshire’, ‘Supporting refugees through faith communities’, and ‘Keep Campsfield closed’. Workshops were held on ‘Advocating for migrants’ rights today’, ‘Career pathways in the refugee sector’, ‘Building a city of sanctuary’, and ‘How the Arts can amplify voices of the displaced’.

Audio podcasts are available of the two introductory panels: ‘Making sanctuary a reality in Oxford’ and ‘The political landscape of migrant rights in the UK’.

Stalls from numerous community organisations spread the word about how people are making a difference on the front line, providing information on the volunteering opportunities and practical actions available to support refugees and asylum seekers in Oxford and beyond.

At the start of the Fair, Oxford University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Martin Williams (pictured above), announced the timely news that the University of Oxford has been awarded University of Sanctuary status. See the University website for full information.

Professor Alexander Betts (RSC Director) and Mark Goldring (Director, Asylum Welcome) opened the fair.  In this article, Professor Betts discusses how the University is striving to create a community of welcome for refugees.

Find out more about Oxford as a Community of Sanctuary here.

Download the Sanctuary Fair programme


Photos: Top row - opening panel 'Making sanctuary a reality in Oxford', Professor Martin Williams, panel 'The political landscape of migrant rights in the UK’. Bottom row - panel 'Access to education for refugees and asylum seekers’, stalls in the main hall, panel ‘Keep Campsfield closed’. Credit: R Bradenbrink.