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Why Islington is a Borough of Sanctuary

What being a Borough of Sanctuary means for Islington and people who come here from other countries who need our welcome and support.

Whether Islington has been home for a short time or for much longer, our vision is that all residents looking for sanctuary can find and take opportunities while feeling welcomed, included and connected to the borough.

Our mission

As a Borough of Sanctuary our mission is to take action that will:

  • promote the rights and welfare of all people seeking safety and protection
  • help refugees, migrants and residents seeking asylum to feel and be part of the borough
  • develop and promote projects that create a sense of community, belonging and togetherness in Islington
  • bring communities together to address the issues that matter to everyone
  • celebrate the contributions, culture and successes of all migrants.

Islington is a Borough of Sanctuary

In 2021, we passed a full council motion stating our intention to join a network of local authorities that work to create a culture of welcome, inclusion and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary.

We are delighted to be formally recognised by the UK charity City of Sanctuary as a Borough of Sanctuary after an assessment in late 2023. This recognises that Islington is a place of welcome and safety for sanctuary seekers.

People who benefit from Islington being a Borough of Sanctuary

Being an official Borough of Sanctuary should mean we can take solid political, service and community-based actions that will allow us to better meet the needs of our residents from migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds.

People can come to the UK for many different reasons and the rules that govern people's rights to enter or stay are complex. Some examples of the different circumstances of people seeking safety or new beginnings in Islington include residents who:

  • are seeking asylum and protection in the UK as they fear persecution in their home country, including children or young people who are also seeking protection but are separated from their parents or carers
  • have been granted refugee status after their asylum claim has been successful 
  • have fled conflict or war in their home countries and who have arrived by refugee resettlement schemes like:
  • have been sponsored by community groups or other residents, such as the Homes for Ukraine scheme or Community Sponsorship
  • have lived in the community for years and have a visa to stay but experience hardship and discrimination because their immigration status does not allow them to claim benefits
  • have faced ongoing hardship and discrimination because of the Windrush scandal and hostile environment policies 
  • may have experienced trafficking or modern-day slavery before or after their arrival to the UK
  • join their family members in the UK
  • move to Islington to seek new opportunities such as a job or to study for a qualification.

About Sanctuary

For a better understanding of what sanctuary means, read this beautiful poem written by the Somali Women’s Group with Francesca Beard, All Change Associate Artist in November 2023.


Is a door you leave from that you know you can always open
Is a mirror you might glance in and recognise yourself
Is a justice that weighs you equal to other people
Is a safety net that lets you fly
Is a freedom to speak for the people you left behind who are not free
Is a home away from the home you left that was your sanctuary
Is neighbours who bring you flowers and you bring flowers for in times of grieving and of joy

Council of Sanctuary Award logo with a blue and maroon figure joining hands above their heads surrounded by laurel and the slogan "Welcoming people seeking sanctuary".

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