Islington: a Borough of Sanctuary

Guests being served food at the Borough of Sanctuary celebration event

Islington celebrated its new official status as a Borough of Sanctuary for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers recently by throwing a party with a purpose. 

More than 100 people came together to celebrate at an event hosted by Islington Council on Monday 5 February. Islington Assembly Hall buzzed with people enjoying the music, speeches and food that filled the event.  

Why the big deal? Well, the award from City of Sanctuary UK officially recognises Islington’s long, proud history of welcoming people in need. It also recognises the borough’s commitment to supporting and valuing those seeking sanctuary now and, in the future – something to be proud of, we think!                  

Not just your average gathering, the event included an intimate and moving performance by London-based Syrian oud player Rihab Azar, coupled with a show-stopping performance by Drum Works. There were also talks from people who have found sanctuary in Islington, including the Somali Women’s Group, who performed a beautiful poetry reading. After this, Tetiana Pysarenko, a Ukrainian singer, performed beautiful Ukrainian songs to get the vibes going before a delicious lunch. 

Shogofa, who attended the event, is just one of the people who found sanctuary in Islington. She now has an apprenticeship in the council’s no recourse to public funds, refugee and migrant service. “Starting a new life is scary. You have everything at home and then you start from zero, but people were so welcoming and helpful,” she says. “I don’t feel like there are any limitations for me to grow here and I love that it’s such a diverse place. The more you meet people and the more you see other cultures, the more you feel a connection.” 

Islington’s community spirit is all about working together to make sure everyone feels safe, valued, and right at home – and the council is promising to build on this through its Islington Welcomes Strategy. This includes working with people who have found sanctuary in Islington to improve its services and design training for council staff, and launching a Sanctuary Grant Programme to boost community projects. 

Together, we can continue to make sure everyone feels safe, valued and welcome in the place we call home. 

Find out more information about Islington’s Borough of Sanctuary status and how you can get involved. 




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