PRESS RELEASE: Sevenoaks Town becomes the first official 'Town of Sanctuary'

Published: 19 June 2023




‘I am delighted that Sevenoaks has been recognised by the City of Sanctuary programme. Through Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees and through the individual actions of Sevenoaks people opening their homes and lending their time and skills, I believe we extend a warm welcome to those who arrive here in very difficult circumstances. I am so glad that, as a Town Council, we have worked with Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees to achieve this status and to weave care for refugees into the fabric of all we do.’
Cllr Claire Shea, Mayor of Sevenoaks.


The City of Sanctuary movement is to encourage a more welcoming UK for people forced to flee their homes.

City of Sanctuary is a vast network of ordinary people around the country stepping up to support people seeking sanctuary in our communities. From community groups to schools and universities, local councils to libraries and theatres, City of Sanctuary works with individuals, groups, and organisations in every area and in every sector to encourage inclusivity, solidarity, and compassion for people from a forced displacement background. The Sanctuary Awards programme recognises and celebrates the organisations and institutions going above and beyond to create welcome, compassion and empowering opportunities for people seeking sanctuary.  

The City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network is a movement of local councils who are working to create a culture of welcome, inclusion and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary. City of Sanctuary status is normally accredited to principal councils e.g., Districts and County Councils. 


Sevenoaks Town Council and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees is delighted to have been accredited with the first Town of Sanctuary award for the town of Sevenoaks. 


‘We all have a part to play in building a culture of welcome, inclusion and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary. We are thrilled that our very first Town Council has received recognition for its ongoing work to support those fleeing violence and persecution. They have clearly demonstrated that they are embedding inclusion and welcome across a variety of council services and that they are working collaboratively with key local organisations and people with lived experience to enable them to rebuild their lives in Sevenoaks’  
Maggie Filipova-Rivers: Regional Coordinator, City of Sanctuary 


“Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees is delighted that our town has been officially recognised by the City of Sanctuary movement as a Town of Sanctuary, the first one in the whole country. Since we started SWR in 2017 it has been wonderful to see the support of people across the whole district in welcoming and helping refugees from many countries, and the backing of the Mayor and Town Council will help us to strengthen the welcome to people who are in so much need” 
Chris Hix: Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees 


Cllr Libby Ancrum, Deputy Mayor, who initially recommended applying for the Town of Sanctuary said:

“As a member of the Town Council, I am particularly pleased to see STC recognising and collaborating with the work being done towards inclusivity in our community. This award helps us to set a framework for cooperation together as a community to welcome refugees as our neighbours. A proud moment for Sevenoaks”. 


As part of the national Refugee Week, the following will take place in Sevenoaks:

Monday 19th June 2023 1.00 p.m. - Mayor, Cllr Claire Shea to raise a flag at the Vine relating to Town of Sanctuary status 

Tuesday 20th June 2023 8.00 p.m.  - Cinema Event at the Stag.  Click here for info