Britain has a proud history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing from persecution and tyranny. Our tradition has been part of what makes Britain great. However, that tradition is under threat. In recent years providing sanctuary for people has become a political football. Yet over two-thirds of the public still think it is important that the UK provides sanctuary to people fleeing persecution.

The General Election will be held soon. Time is short. CITIZENS for Sanctuary has developed the Sanctuary Pledge to take advantage of this opportunity. What are we asking Politicians to do?

Campaign responsibly, positively and sensitively in the 2010 election. Use ‘sanctuary’ instead of ‘asylum’ when communicating with the public. Support policies that will end the detention of children and families for immigration reasons. Promote tolerance and neighbourliness between local ommunities. Safeguard the long-term future of sanctuary. Meet with us 6 months after they are elected, to review progress.

The political parties became interested in this campaign only when they realised that delegations of local faith and community leaders were being trained to meet with their Prospective Parliamentary Candidates and extract a commitment to the Pledge in key seats across the country. Some of those key seats are local to our area and we have had a training day at the John Paul Centre, Grange Road, Middlesbrough.

‘Tees Valley Citizens for Sanctuary’ have recently campaigned successfully for a change in reporting conditions for those who have to report regularly to the UK Border Agency – some of whom had to walk up to 12 miles to Stockton Police Station. We are hoping that this will be an equally successful campaign and we need more people to join us. More details are available on the website – You can sign up for the training via the website or contact me on Come and help us convince our political representatives to sign the Sanctuary Pledge.