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University of Winchester to stage two Sanctuary events during Refugee Week

The University of Winchester will be marking Refugee Week (19-25 June) with two major events to support those fleeing violence and persecution.

On 21 June it will hold Compassion in Education: The Inaugural Conference of the University of Winchester’s Sanctuary Network at the West Downs Campus.

Three days later singers and musicians brought together by the University will gather in Winchester Cathedral for a special concert, Sing for Sanctuary.

Both events are free to attend.

Compassion in Education: The Inaugural Conference of the University of Winchester’s Sanctuary Network

Aimed at schools, colleges and universities, who are interested in welcoming people seeking sanctuary, the conference will include workshops and networking for learners (from Year 5 to post-16) and teachers and educators.

Guest speakers from Schools of Sanctuary, the International Rescue Committee and Refugee Education UK will give presentations explaining how to create welcoming environments for students who are refugees or asylum-seekers who may have suffered trauma.

Workshops will involve music sessions run by Creative Director of the University of Winchester Music Centre, Neil Valentine and Dr Olu Taiwo, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts.

Sarah-Harder-Collins, Head of Participation and Success at the University, said:

“Winchester is internationally recognised for championing sanctuary in education.

“We are committed to providing a welcome to asylum seekers and refugees and aim to embed a culture of awareness and inclusivity into all levels of the University’s work.”

Each educational establishment can bring up to eight students to the conference. Students/learners can be from either a sanctuary background or be interested in becoming champions for sanctuary. If you are interested in attending the Sanctuary Network conference visit here for tickets.

Sing for Sanctuary

Sing for Sanctuary will feature more than 150 performers of all ages.

Among those taking part are three Hampshire based community choirs – Winchester Acapella, Encore Choirs and Winchester Festival Chorus alongside the Junior Choir from St Michael’s Church in Basset Southampton, Blue Apple Theatre Choir and members of the Ukrainian Community.

The concert will include renditions of Keep Changing the World by Mikeschair, Native American chants, Anna Tabbush’s uplifting Harbour, Ukrainian tunes from accordion virtuoso Volodymyr Vasylenko, snippets of Bob Marley and audience participation.

The finale will be the world premiere of new song You’re Not Alone written by Neil Valentine alongside young people from University Sanctuary Ambassadors and First Star Scholars.

Neil says: “You are all welcome to this special concert. We hope you will join with us and lend your voices and presence in celebrating our shared humanity through music and song.’

The show starts at 3.30pm and runs to 5pm. Audience members are welcome to stay on for Evensong for Sanctuary which begins at 5.30pm.

About the Winchester University of Sanctuary Network

Winchester received a ‘University of Sanctuary’ Award from UK charity City of Sanctuary in 2018 in recognition of its initiatives to welcome refugees and asylum seekers and support their studies.

It was the first university in the south of England to gain sanctuary status.

The University currently offers a Ukrainian Sanctuary Award to support students from Ukraine who have sought sanctuary in the UK as a result of the Russian invasion or who were in the UK at the time of the invasion and wish to remain in here until they can return home safely.

The University also offers Sanctuary Awards, supporting two students a year seeking sanctuary in the UK to undertake a degree course. The Award offers a full tuition fee waiver and a bursary of £5,000 a year to support the costs of study. To date, 56 students from 17 countries have received awards, with 29 graduating so far.

From September Winchester will be one of two British universities, the other is Exeter, to offer, in partnership with Refugee Education UK, a new Sanctuary Scholarship to a displaced person from outside the UK. The award will include a fee waiver for three years and assistance with accommodation.

The University’s Sanctuary Network, the first in the UK, is made up of staff and students and external practitioners engaged in knowledge exchange, research, teaching, outreach and support relating to asylum seekers and refugees. 

Initiatives include hosting family days for Syrian families in partnership with the Rural Refugee Network, English language tuition offered by volunteer staff for refugee families settled in Winchester, and membership of the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) fellowship programme, which helps academics in immediate danger and those forced into exile.

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