Special event to promote Ipswich Town of Sanctuary

Melissa Day

Melissa Day - Credit: Archant

Let’s make Ipswich more welcoming for newcomers

Ice & Fire Theatre Company

Ice & Fire Theatre Company - Credit: Archant

Ipswich business owner Melissa Day has organised a special event, on Saturday July 18, to promote and develop Ipswich as a Town of Sanctuary.

Melissa, from east Ipswich, has been a driving force behind the Town of Sanctuary movement in the town, and is now looking to recruit a group of like-minded people to form a committee to take the concept forward.

The Ipswich Town of Sanctuary event is at the Ipswich Community Church in Wilberforce Street, IP1 2JP beginning at 7.30pm.

It was important tha new people to the town felt safe and welcome, especially if they came from parts of the world where they had faced war and hardship, she said.

Ipswich could be such a `safe place.’ and the event will explore the idea.

She said: “It is part of the Extravagent Grace” event and it will include speakers, including myself.

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“And the Ice & Fire Theatre Group members will be reading Asylym Monologues, telling real stories of people who have come looking for sanctuary.

“Ice & Fire have actress Juliet Stephenson as their patron.

“This is a public event, and free.

“This is a concept, more than an organisation - developing a culture of hospitality and welcome for people who come here.

“It is similar to the FairTrade movement in that people are interested in the ethos of it.

“It is already supported by organisations and faith communities in the town.”

Regular five-a-side football sessions had attracted a wide range of nationalities, who wanted to socialise as well as improve their English, she said.

“We have 60 different organisations signed up so far.”

Town of Sanctuary started in Sheffield initially in 2005, as a City of Sanctuary and it had spread.

“I have run Ipswich Town of Sanctuary since 2009.

“I would love to get a steering group together to take it forward.

“This is something the town can take ownership of, if people come forward.”

“I am hoping we can recruit some people on the night who might want to do that.

“It would be a great thing for the town to have.

“We were only the fifth place in the country to start Town of Sanctuary, and the first in the East of England.

Melissa has seen a number of initiative in the town including regular informal sessions for asylum seekers helt at St John’s United Refored Church in Cowper Street.

The It’s Tuesday conversation group sessions had grown, she said, and were well supported, with speakers and activities such as sharing cooking skills.

Rev Ivor Smith of St John’s URC Church wrote: “Sanctuary is much more than just having somewhere that welcomes people; it is about giving security and freedom from fear so that people can begin to rebuild lives that have been devastated. As someone involved in just a small way I can honestly declare that I have a much richer life than I did through meeting and engaging with my wider world family.”

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