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Tees Valley of Sanctuary

Meeting Minutes

                                                 Wednesday  9th March 2016 2:00pm

John Paul Centre Middlesbrough

Present: Pete Widlinski (TVoS Coordinator and chair), Stephen Nuttall (TVoS Secretary),Herbert Dirahu (Regional Refugee Forum), Reg Bellerby (MAP),  Abbie English (Teesside University , Emad Raad , Jude Peacock (Durham City of Sanctuary), Hannah Clark (Justice First), Phil Muriel (TVoS treasurer and Musicians 4 Sanctuary,  Satnam Singh (Stockton Council),Terry Doyle (Together Middlesbrough), Siobhan Burke (Ethnic Minority Achievement Team), Cath Ingram (Baptist Tabernacle),  Suzanne Fletcher (Citizens UK, Stockton Welcomes Syrians), Heather Black (Together Middlesbrough and Cleveland).

 Welcome and Introductions Pete welcomed all present and introduced the agenda for the meeting, as new faces were present everyone introduced themselves to the group.

  1. Apologies  Mary Murray, Bini Araia, Natalie O’Connor, Fiona Ranson, Ailsa Adamson, Barbara Hungin, Paul Catterall, Shahda Khan.
  2. Minutes from previous meeting

Minutes from the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record with the following correction. Apologies given by SN as the wrong minutes presented to group.


The date for the Mela is confirmed as 16th -17th July 2016, the event will be held at Mima this year.

York Minster Visit

Canon Chris Collingwood organising event.

Faith Stream Pack

The national CoS asked if a faith stream resource pack could be created. The group producing the pack are focusing on going work

  1. Matters Arising

New reporting Centre

Some members of the group are interested in visiting the new reporting centre in Middlesbrough. Requests to visit to go via Janine Hartley.


Examples of the leaflets produced by Leeds and Bristol were shown to the group last meeting. Paul Catteral was creating a postcard size copy for TVoS, unfortunately they were not available to view at the meeting.


  1. Tees Valley of Sanctuary Update

Faith Stream

Following a successful Minster visit, this was on Holocaust Memorial Day – marks holocaust and also continued persecution and genocide continuing today. An amazing day which also spoke of the work undertaken by TVoS Hosting Scheme and Open Door. York CoS spoke with us and would like to partner with TVoS. Joseph Rowntree would like to include TVoS in a bid. Also a build up with families to have a day out in York. It was a really positive meeting about growing partnership with York , as they have few AS in York.  Heather is to provide Durham CoS with her equivalent contact in Durham.


Whitby Churches Together

PW gave a presentation to the Whitby group for their Lent season and set the scene for CoS groups. Anna from Open Door will also be speaking. They are interested in supporting TVoS as no AS in Whitby. PW explained how a group in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale – the Two Dales Refugee Support – have supported TVoS, and delivered a number of Christmas presents, raised funds through a carol service with over 100 people attending and raising £616.  The organisers said they have never known so many people supporting a cause.  PW and colleagues spoke at a public meeting in Reeth and the group have committed to supporting the MTF sponsored walk, organising family visits and weekends for refugee and asylum seeking families.


PW gave a talk to the Durham Council-led group considering being part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

PW has given 3 x 1.5 hour workshops on a Diversity Training Day for trainee  teachers, discussing asylum issues and TVoS.

Catalyst (the voluntary sector umbrella) brought together all asylum supporting groups in Stockton in order to improve networking and exchange information. The aim is to update the information on what support groups are available in Stockton.  Hannah Clark is looking at what ESOL provision there is in Stockton. Helen Weir (ex ESOL teacher) is building a directory for all ESOL outside Stockton area. MVDA has a directory of services for refugee support.  Teesside University has submitted a Big Lottery bid for English classes, still waiting to find out if successful. IMAT which meets and greets new AS to Stockton area, are encouraging AS to attend ESOL classes. On the 11th April 2016 Stockton Riverside College has organised an ESOL class for 45 places, particularly for AS and women. The places are open to all, but people will need to be able to reach Stockton College. A directory of AS services need updating and given to JOMAST.

Hosting Scheme Event

The hosting is continuing to grow and now manages 20 hosts. There have been several successful hostings with positive feedback and mutually beneficial for both the Hosts and Hostees. It is important to share these stories as more people are likely to come forward to host, once they understand why hosting is needed.

RED Doors

PW informed the group how he had interviews from 07.10 to 18.45 – 15 interviews with 4 further interviews later. Highlighted homelessness and destitution, forced shared bedrooms and the hostel accommodation as the key issues, and put a positive spin to the rather negative undertones. Clients perceive the Red doors as making them a target. Red Doors have been raised with Jomast on several occasions, but Jomast denied most doors were red, however investigations have shown that the majority of the houses owned by them are red. SF had 18 interviews including Al Jazeera, which she agreed only if Al Jazeera included the positive aspects of AS support in Teesside. Al Jazeera only focused on the Red door not the positive aspects of AS, like drop in centres, etc. AS often have to share rooms with strangers, in order for the Landlord to maximise their profits. The issue has highlighted that there is no forum for AS to raise and share concerns. SF explained how one woman who highlighted the Jomast accommodation shortcomings was forced to sign a statement that there were no problems with the accommodation or be made homeless when pregnant.

Jomast and G4S are not caring about how AS people are treated. Nationally there is a mood of support for AS and have been disappointed with the stigmatisation of AS. This has been highlighted in a Jeremy Kyle show. The Home Affairs Select Committee – main recommendation is that there must be a forum for AS. Must follow-up to ensure it happens. Jomast cancelled recent Middlesbrough multi-agency meeting because of the Red Door issue. Jomast has said complaints need to go straight to Jomast NOT G4S. Complaints to G4S as the main contractor would send reports to the Government if they received any complaints. There has been confusion on what the official approach should be because of these mixed messages from Jomast and G4S about problems.  A forum is needed for voluntary and official services to be able to come together and to highlight and resolve issues. A discussion around the format for the Forum and how to best set it up and resolve issues occurred. Newcastle operational group 2 forums, a formal and closed group and a Newcastle wide group of volunteer groups with formal services only invited as and when required. There would need to be 4 operational meetings for the Teesside area: Redcar, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Stockton. A pilot group needs setting up with a core group to express feelings. Herbert would like an independent group to administer forum for AS like the Newcastle wide model. Jomast has been told to ensure that with their meeting is open to all, including SF! And to no longer be a closed group. In Newcastle AS attend a Residents Association meetings and bypasses Jomast completely if issues not resolved. There is a fear amongst AS that complaining will adversely affect their claim or Jomast reaction to them. The other options available are if Jomast is not resolving complaints, is to approach G4S or the Home Office with the problem. Forums will be a good way of reporting Hate crime in Teesside area. Victim Support has implanted changes suitable to deal with an AS victim.

Teesside University has established a group Mind the Gap where AS, Refugees and students (studying in degrees with public services, i.e. psychology, radiographers, social workers and nurses)  meet and address a different topic each week . Topics have included Housing, security, Hate crime, LGBT and Learning difficulties. The group talk about their own experiences of the topic, with a guest speaker and also responses from the students on what changes need making in public services to address the topic issues. The group also discusses the reasons for the official services responses received and why the service acts in a particular way.  The University has experience of building forums for drug use across Teesside, which invites official services as required. Funding to be sought for a service user coordinator who has been through the AS process. Important part is to develop key groups and have confidence growing sessions for its members. The forum committee reports to commissioners who will then report issues to the organisations. Durham CoS has looked at improving support at the end of the AS process. They are looking at producing a range of “How to” leaflets in various languages on topics required, i.e. opening a bank account. The Home Office led recommendation would require TVoS to have resources or funding to make happen. This should NOT be a Jomast led forum. SF has made Barry Coppinger (PCC) aware about the stones thrown at windows.    SF raised that a number of West Yorkshire local authorities had adopted policies saying that room sharing in private rented property between adults who did not ask to share would not be allowed, and was in place for housing providers under the G4S Compass contract.  She has sent information about these to Stockton Council, and understands that it is being looked into.  She was also trying to get the issue discussed at the Housing and Neighbourhood Forum.

Community Policing

Many AS have mixed feelings about involving the Police with their problems, this is possibly because of cultural factors of mistrust in their own country. The community Police team are introducing themselves at AS drop in groups, to meet AS and better understand AS issues.

  1. National City of Sanctuary Update

Herbert informed the group that Newcastle Home Office is visiting properties to ensure door colour is changed. There was a general meeting on 22nd January at Bristol CoS. The Guardian xmas Grant Appeal gave £400k to national CoS. The national CoS is discussing how best to use these funds. £300k will be split into annual £100k grants for local CoS groups. The £100k may be split into 2 groups of £50k for biannual grant requests. TVoS can apply to this fund and will be sent information on how to apply to follow. There are about 70 local CoS groups across the UK. There is also discussion that some of the money may pay for senior managers role. The remainder of the money will be put in reserves.


The national CoS is interested in creating 9 regions, with the NE being one region. The aim is to decentralise power across regional groups. Each region will have a coordinator. Local groups will be contacted for comments.


  1. Treasurer’s report and funding bids

TVoS has received £3000 from Everyday Language Solutions, and £5000 from Project One/Seed Bed. Currently looking at getting funding for a 1 day a week coordinator, this will work out as £6600 per annum (this includes 10% employer costs). The Jill Franklin Trust to be approached again for funding. Once a named person is employed they will be able to focus on TVoS. The group agreed a Job Description will need to be agreed for the post role, Newcastle CoS to be approached for a copy of their coordinator Job Description. Tees Valley Communty Foundation and the PCC are other possible funding options.


Awards for All provide grants up to £10k. The Treasurer explained that there are sufficient funds for the coordinator role; however this would mean that no funds would be available to fund future events. PW will contact Newcastle CoS for copy of their coordinator Job Description.


  1. Refugee Week – Monday 20th June – Sunday 26th June 2016

Group discussed various locations available to host event. The University Campus Heart is a large open space. The group discussed activities that could be available: basketball nets, table tennis demo, stalls, street entertainers, Bouncy castle and with events on the periphery. The lecture theatre could also be available. It was agreed to hold an afternoon and an evening event on Wednesday 22nd June. Refugee Week is occurring during Ramadan, so it may affect the involvement of some of the Muslim community. Transport is needed to bring ASs from outside Middlesbrough. PW mentioned that recently gave a presentation to Middlesbrough Philanthropic Society.

  1. Syria and refugee resettlement

Darlington, Redcar, Hartlepool, and Durham are all taking Syrian refugees. Redcar and Cleveland will also be accepting single men under the regular dispersal scheme in the greater Eston area. Concern was raised that the families may experience hostility from some residents in these areas. Especially if they are single males, concern about how these individuals would be integrated. Any programmes would need also to include locals when setting up welcome groups.


  1. Any other Business


A new boss has been appointed, they will attend next meeting. Her name is Stacy Carlisle.


The next TVoS meeting is to focus on Refugee Week, and Schools for Sanctuary. A sub group will also be established to oversee TVoS event.

  1. Date, time and venue for next steering group meeting

Wednesday 13th April, 2.00pm

Arrival Practice, Stockton

 Meeting closed 16.00hrs

TVoS meeting Final amended 9th March 2016