Each year Newman University, Birmingham, awards Honorary Degrees to those it feels have made a positive impact upon the society in which we live.

Sr Margaret Walsh, based at St Chad's Sanctuary, received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Sr Margaret Walsh has been an Infant Jesus Sister for over 50 years and it was while teaching in a comprehensive school in Crewe that she heard God’s call to live and work in the inner city and in 1984 was led to Wolverhampton.

Margaret and her team of Sisters and lay people regularly visited the tenants on the Heath Town estate. They soon found those most in need and were able to help by listening and working with them.

Some years later, a centre for family activities was set up on the estate and the Hope Community continues to thrive.

After spending some time on Sabbatical in India, Sr Margaret moved to Smethwick in Sandwell and, with a growing team of volunteers, she set up the Brushstrokes Community Project in 1999. Again, the aim was to support the most vulnerable.

While visiting families she met asylum seekers and soon felt that they were the most deprived and isolated in the neighbourhood. Many of the Project’s activities became designed around their needs.

When the Brushstrokes Community Project was well established, Sr Margaret became aware of a growing need in Birmingham city, especially among asylum seekers who had become homeless and destitute.

St Chad’s Cathedral was approached for help and the Salvation Army was also happy to be involved.

St Chad’s Sanctuary was established in February 2010 and is now a recognised city centre project offering a multi-faith and multi-cultural place of welcome, support and practical help for asylum seekers and refugees.

Sr Margaret is still the full-time, voluntary manager at St Chad’s Sanctuary with over 100 volunteers and a small core group of staff.

Visiting Erasmus students from all over Europe have been welcomed on placements and many students from Newman University have been inspired by involvement, and continued working on a voluntary basis after their assessment ended.

Sr Margaret remains on the management of the Hope Community and Brushstrokes and she is also a trustee with Birmingham Churches Together.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred by Newman University on Sr Margaret Walsh for her visionary and inspirational work over many years to help those who find themselves marginalised in society.

Marcia McLaughlin and Jack Robbins were also awarded honorary degrees at last month's (Oct) ceremony.