Guildhall Event

Cambridge City of Sanctuary for Refugees Event – April 15

Event report by Nik Shelton.

Photos by Cambridge Calais Refugee Action Group.

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On Friday April 15th Cambridge made a stand for refugees. The sold out City of Sanctuary event at the Guildhall raised more than £10,000 to support the vital work of Cambridge Calais Refugee Action Group and the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign. The City of Sanctuary event at the Guildhall in Cambridge began with hundreds of people taking part in a procession through the streets of the city following a children’s choir and a huge white dove of peace.

The doors opened to an information fair, pop up café and display of art from Syrian children taken from the travelling exhibition From Syria With Love, put together by Syrian student Baraa Kouja. Baraa was the first speaker on stage in the main hall, bringing home the heartwrenching story of huge numbers of people forced from their homes by terrorism, tyranny and war in his mother country. He was followed by Glenys Newton, storyteller and tireless worker for refugees in Calais and Greece; Dr Nazia Mintz- Habib, Cambridge University specialist in international development; Eddie Stadnik, Chief Officer of Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum and Jess Mills, of aid group Help Refugees.

The event was a great opportunity to show politicians how many people care passionately about the plight of refugees in Europe. As well as Cambridge’s Labour MP Daniel Zeichner and South Cambridgeshire’s Conservative MP Heidi Allen, who appeared on stage during our speakers and debate session, we were extremely proud to welcome shadow immigration minister Keir Starmer onto the stage while former Government minister Tessa Jowell watched from the audience. The leader of Cambridge City Council Lewis Herbert also took part, and present at the event were a host of serving councillors from across the political spectrum.

After an auction of wishes which caused a bidding war for some great offerings donated by local companies and individuals and raised over £1,000, more than 400 people filed into the venue for a spectacular night of music from cabaret rockers Binewski Murder, Senegalese party starters Afro Tema and more.

As well as raising much needed funds to support convoys to Calais and support refugee families being given shelter in Cambridge, the event sent a message loud and clear to the decision makers whose influence is vitally important if we are to respond the refugee crisis engulfing Europe with compassion and humanity. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who bought tickets, donated, performed, spoke and volunteered on the night, and helped make it huge success.

Local media attended the event and you can read coverage in the Cambridge News here. If you couldn’t make it you can play your part by donating to the online appeal here.

Here are some images from the event.

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The event was sponsored by some fantastic local companies, for whose support we are extremely grateful – The Radley Trust, Daily Bread, Arjuna, Shelford Lodge, Golden Spice, Coffee World, ARM, CamRosh, Thirsty, Savino’s, Martina Ann and Vivacious Vegans.

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