Stafford Welcomes Refugees and Stafford Town of Sanctuary are proud to announce their first award to St Austin's Catholic Church, Stafford, granting it ‘Church of Sanctuary’ status.

MP for Stafford, Theo Clarke, was recently welcomed by all to St Austin’s to present Canon Michael Neylon with a commemorative plaque designed by Stafford artist, Gillie Nicholls, to celebrate the great work St Austin’s has done to welcome refugees into the community.

Stafford Welcomes Refugees volunteers also work as Stafford Town of Sanctuary, part of the national organisation City of Sanctuary, which promote towns and cities to foster a welcoming attitude to all, with a large focus on refugees fleeing war, violence and persecution.

From the time the Syrian refugees arrived in Stafford under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme, the Church has offered the use of its hall for social gatherings - which used to happen on a regular basis.

There would be opportunities to practice English and for the children to play as well as simply socialising with each other and the members of Stafford Welcomes Refugees.

At Christmas time, parties were held for the children and Father Christmas bore a strong resemblance to Canon Michael!

Theo Clarke was also presented with a letter to present to the Home Secretary signed by over 90 people. The signatures were mostly gathered at a one-day event in Stafford by people who are increasingly concerned about the new Borders Bill - it may lack safe routes to the UK for people seeking sanctuary, especially those unaccompanied children and teenagers seeking to reunite with family members in the UK.

All children fleeing persecution and violence deserve safe routes to reach safety and reunite with family members regardless of where they are located.

Stafford Welcomes Refugees also work closely with Safe Passage in working to keep safe and legal routes open.

Find out more about Stafford Welcomes Refugees