Town to become sanctuary for asylum seekers?

A DEDICATED campaigner is trying to turn Ipswich into a town of sanctuary today.

Rebecca Lefort

A DEDICATED campaigner is trying to turn Ipswich into a town of sanctuary today.

Melissa Day hopes to make the community more welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers by gaining official recognition as a City of Sanctuary.

She is looking for politicians, community groups, businesses and faith organisations to come on board to support the project and make life easier for people from abroad who come to Ipswich after fleeing persecution in their homes.

The project is similar to creating a fair-trade town.

Miss Day, 23, a member of the St John's United Reformed Church in Ipswich, which would become a base centre in the project, said: “I realised that people weren't aware of the situation asylum seekers find themselves in when they get to the UK.

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“I thought it would be a good way of including people in society and making sure they got access to help and support.

“It would help people to adapt and integrate.”

Miss Day said if Ipswich gained the status the team behind the project would then set about making sure there was temporary accommodation, medical services, counselling and English language teaching available to refugees and asylum seekers.

She also hopes that becoming a town of sanctuary would lead to more education in schools about immigration.

The City of Sanctuary began in Sheffield in 2005 and now Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, London, Nottingham, Oxford and Swansea are all working towards official status.

Norwich City is a 'City of Refuge' through a different international network for exiled writers.

For more information about getting involved e-mail Miss Day on

- Would you like Ipswich to become a town of sanctuary? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail

Asylum seekers and refugees

- An asylum-seeker is someone of any age who has fled their home country to find a safe place elsewhere.

- Under the 1951 Convention on Refugees, an asylum applicant must be able to demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin for reasons of political opinion, religion, ethnicity, race/nationality, or membership of a particular social group.

- The applicant must also be able to demonstrate that they are unable to obtain any protection or assistance from their own national authorities.

- A refugee is someone whose asylum application is successful.