Tees Valley of Sanctuary

Meeting Notes

Wednesday 1st April 2015

Arrival Medical Practice

Present: Pete Widlinski (TVoS Coordinator and chair), Stephen Nuttall (TVoS Secretary – minutes),  Suzanne Fletcher (Citizens UK/Thrive), Bill Williams (Arrival Medical Practice), Barbara Hungin (Justice First), Catherine Ramos (Justice First), Ailsa Adamson (Methodist Asylum Project), Paul Catterall (Open Door NE), Francis Groves (Asylum Seekers Drop-in Stockton), Vicki Mathie (Arrival Medical Practice), Phil Muriel (Musicians 4 Sanctuary), Heather Black (Together Middlesbrough), Hilary Hodgson (Red Cross), Val Barran (Communities Together – Durham).


  1. Welcome and Introductions

Pete welcomed all present and introduced agenda for the meeting. Bill Williams introduced Vicki Mathie, the new practice manager at Arrival.


  1. Apologies

John Mellor (City of Sanctuary), Wendy Lillie (Everyday Language Solutions and treasurer), Mohammed Nasreldin (NERS), Satnam Singh (Stockton Council), Herbert Dirahu (Regional Refugee Forum), Julie Bunn (Ethnic Minority Achievement team, Middlesbrough Council Education), Fiona Ranson (Stockton Education Dept).


  1. Minutes from previous meeting

Minutes from previous meeting agreed as an accurate record, with the following amendments:

Urban House (formerly called Angel Lodge) currently revising list of organisations supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Middlesbrough.  Satman Singh to send an updated list to Pete for Stockton.  Info to go on TVoS website and copy sent to Jomast once received.

To amend “Christian Faith Group” to “Faith Group” on last minutes notes.


  1. Matters Arising:

Pete attended a City of Sanctuary meeting on the 6th March in Bristol on destitution of asylum/sanctuary seekers. Neil Schneider Stockton CEO, agreed that Satnam Singh attends, but an unexpected family issue prevented him from attending.  There were 200 attendees but very few Local Authority reps.  A conference report will be circulated.


Faith Groups

Amongst the 60 plus attendees at the faith group follow-up meeting were 2 people representing the Teesside Mosques.  They signed the pledge on behalf of all the mosques.  It was agreed to do more to encourage more representatives from individual mosques.


David Rhodes (Political reporter for BBC News North East)

A panel discussion to take place in Newcastle, being aired on Wednesday 29th April, topic: Migration and Refugee Issues. Pete would like 2/3 people from TVoS to attend.  Further details to follow.



Bank Account

Wendy has been busy at work and been unable to set an account up yet. Phil not been updated on any developments.


  1. Tees Valley of Sanctuary update:


Mark White, manager of the Vice Chancellor’s office at Tees University has offered a free room at the University for Thursday 17th June 2015, with a 5.30pm buffet start.  The MAP choir will perform, and Phil will continue to search for other musicians. Venue details not available yet.  Pete to arrange to see the venue with Abigail English (university person responsible for asylum seekers and migrants).  Also agreed to include Abigail on the mailing list.  There is a meeting between the University and Tees Valley Arts to do something during refugee week.



Pete attended a meeting of primary school head teachers (7-8 attended) and gave a presentation about TVoS ‘Schools of Sanctuary’. Heads very enthusiastic about TVoS aims.  Pete contacted Hilaire Agnama at Global Teach about including CoS in his schools’ refugee awareness sessions. Brecon Hill and Ayresome Schools have expressed an interest in being a School of Sanctuary.  It will be good for schools to become involved in the launch, i.e. creating posters, badges, writings, etc.  It was reported that Fiona Ransom at Stockton’s education dept was organising a meeting of schools that Pete could attend.  Phil gave a presentation at St. Josephs School in Hartlepool on “Immigration Awareness”.


Musicians 4 Sanctuary

Phil said that a lot of local musicians are booked elsewhere, and he is waiting for confirmation of availability. The Georgian Theatre are disappointed that they will not be hosting the  TVoS launch, and are willing to host future fund raising events.

Martin Collins is currently undertaking research in “Musicians without Borders” and is keen to learn what TVoS is doing re music.  Martin to contact Phil as he is interested in helping.



Well liked and regularly updated with information. Phil asked the group to share with their own “Friends” once a new notification has been received from TVoS Facebook page. Request to send Phil photos for the site directly who will put them on the Facebook page.  Also ideas for content and sharing news about groups welcoming newcomers, i.e. Tees Valley Groups link to be available.


Website CoS

Website has now been populated and will include meeting minutes. Posted Musicians 4 Sanctuary ideas.


Streams of Sanctuary

Pete keen to have Businesses for Sanctuary stream started and mentioned other streams developing.   Catherine suggested Sports for Sanctuary, and will speak with Richard Kelly about contacting athletics and sports clubs.  Discussed what could be done for sports stream, accessing swimming pools/gyms, not easy for sanctuary seekers to access, i.e. explaining health and safety, language problems, safe equipment usage, etc.

Pete said that some of the CoS groups across the UK concentrate on 2 or 3 streams, but he was happy to develop as many streams as possible in the Tees Valley rather than focus on only a few. Paul mentioned the Park Run who are supportive of sanctuary seekers participating.  Contact Paul if anyone is interested in this initiative.  What is needed is a small group of people able to pool information about access to different activities for sanctuary seekers, including welcoming and how to use facilities safely.

Action: Catherine Ramos to start Sports Stream.


Publicity for Launch

To create an electronic poster for event (minimises costs of not printing). Groups currently involved or would like to be involve in TVoS to be invited.  Because TVoS is still in a conceptual stage do not invite general public to event.  A public event will occur once TVoS is more established with streams in a position to demonstrate good welcoming practice.  The group conceptualising the launch with groups/streams having stalls, this would be a visually attractive idea.  Need to check on capacity of the venue.   Hilary agreed to invite Jonathan Ellis from the Red Cross and a national committee member of City of Sanctuary to attend.



Groups /people should book rather than just turn up, as this will give a better idea of catering needs. Investing in People and Culture have suggested a price of £3.50 per head. To form an Event Planning Group to help organise the launch.  Pete, Heather, Phil and Abigail to meet at venue for meetings. Heather and Pete to form subgroup focus on targets and timescales.


City of Sanctuary update

Herbert and John unable to give an update.

20th April CoS has an AGM in Leicester.  Pete is hoping to take a group to the meeting. Overnight accommodation is available for the night before.

Paul left an Open Door leaflet for the group to take.


  1. Election of Officers:

Herbert has resigned as Vice Chair due to potential conflicts with CoS role. Group nominated and Approved Heather, Pete to contact Heather on accepting position.


  1. Funding |Bids

The Jill Franklin Trust has awarded us £1000 for the launch and setup costs, but cheque name is misspelt, so Pete to get it changed. Hilary said she would see if the Red Cross could also make a contribution for the launch. Waiting to hear about other funding applications.


  1. Any Other Business:

MythBuster progress: Refugee Week Group North East currently updating and changing the format for the MythBuster card.  This will mean that the updated version should be ready for the launch. There is a grant of £5000 for this from the Lempriere Pringle Trust, with contributions from Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (£700) and the Northern TUC (£300).


NECFAR Meeting

During 2007/2008 people recently given permission to stay were invited to address churches about their experiences of being an asylum/sanctuary seeker during Refugee Week.  Once the elections are over Catherine would like this to restart this during Refugee Week, with speakers going into churches on the weekends either end of Refugee Week. Val is able to inform the churches via the Church website of the event. Also need to identify people (refugees) willing to speak of their experiences.



The Home Office has confirmed that all fresh asylum claims have to be submitted in Liverpool.  The Home Office had withdrawn the scheme for consultation but Suzanne has been unable to find from the Home Office what changes were made.  There appears to be no change to the scheme at present:

An appointment needs making via a fee taking phone line.

Bus times limit the appointments that can be taken by fresh claimants.

Costs of travel falls on support groups, which have limited funds available.

Suzanne contacted James Wharton MP (Stockton South) who was unwilling to help and lacked understanding of what the problem was.

Suzanne also presented articles on “Overseas Domestic Workers Visa” and “Review of Detained Persons”.

It was suggested that questions should be asked at the various hustings meetings if electoral candidates would be campaigning to stop this continuing if selected.


Health Project

Almost two years ago a number of organisations submitted a joint health project funding bid via the Northern Refugee Centre (NRC).  By the time the grant application was accepted a number of organisations had been subject to reorganisation due to funding cuts, etc.  The NRC has decided to undertake the work themselves, and there is a meeting on 16th April at 3.00pm in the John Paul Centre to discuss the project.  Pete will invite organisations, particularly involved in health, to attend.


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

Wednesday 20th May, 2.00pm at the John Paul Centre Hub (basement).