THE Council last night agreed that Reading would become a City of Sanctuary after a motion was carried at a Full Council meeting.
City of Sanctuary is a national movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution. Boroughs, towns and cities across the UK and Ireland are signing up to the movement as the on-going refugee crisis continues. (www.cityofsanctuary.org)
Earlier this year Reading Borough Council committed to providing a home for three families per year, over five years, as part of the national Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme. Three families have already been re-homed in Reading this year. Over the five year period, around 60 individuals will be settled in Reading.
The motion to Full Council last night (October 18th) came from Council Leader Jo Lovelock. It says:
“Reading has a proud history of welcoming diversity, challenging discrimination and supporting refugees, asylum seekers and other newcomers. We value the contribution that those seeking sanctuary can make to Reading and we are committed to taking practical steps to welcome and integrate all people into Reading’s community.
“In January the Council expressed its commitment, in real terms, to being a place of sanctuary by committing to take three families per year for five years through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme.
“This Council notes that the first three families are now settled in Reading, supported by a range of organisations to help them adjust to their new lives.
“This Council wishes to continue to promote the inclusion and welfare of those coming to Reading to seek sanctuary and resolves to support the Reading City of Sanctuary movement and to spread the sanctuary message of welcome across all sections of the local community.”
The motion was agreed and welcomed by all political leaders in Reading at the Full Council meeting.
Councillor Jeanette Skeats, Conservative Group Leader, said: “I am delighted the first three families are settling well into their new life in Reading and I wish them all well for the future. I only wish we could extend that hospitality and welcome to more families who are in desperate need of sanctuary due to the on-going events in Syria.”
Councillor Rob White, Green Group Leader, said: “As a group we strongly believe that we have a duty to do more to help refugees. It is important that we work towards ensuring that Reading is a welcoming and safe place for all refugees and asylum seekers.”
Councillor Ricky Duveen, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, said: “So many of us are descendants of people who fled war, poverty and discrimination to take advantage of British hospitality, so I welcome the initiative to extend our generosity to families from war-torn Syria. I only wish that we could fund many more.”