Sheffield becomes first ‘city of sanctuary’ in the UK for people of Ukraine

Sheffield has pledged to open its doors to refugees from Ukraine after Russia’s shock invasion.

The city council has declared it will become the UK’s first ‘city of sanctuary’. A term it first applied to itself in 2007.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Gail Smith said the city’s ‘arms are wide open’ to help those in need.

Council members came together on 2 March to address a new urgent item of business about the unrest in Ukraine. Before the meeting, at Ponds Forge, councillors gathered in front of the building to show their solidarity for those forced to flee the violence.

Coun Smith added: ‘‘We are shocked and dismayed at what’s happening in Europe.

‘‘We are proud to become the first city of sanctuary in this country. It is up to the government now, we need them to allow us to bring people to Sheffield and make people feel safe.’’

Many people in Ukraine have been forced from their homes and are trying to seek refuge in the UK.

Councillor Terry Fox said: ‘‘So much blood shed, so much horror. We must continue to speak out against international atrocities and the war and provide a safe haven for those in need.’’

Despite claiming Sheffield is the first ‘city of sanctuary’, members of the public were worried about what specifically Sheffield was putting in place to support the people of Ukraine.

Coun Fox said: ‘‘We are already working closely with Sheffield charities and the city of sanctuary to publish guidance on how we can support them.’’

He said he hoped with the support and pressure of the council Sheffield could speed up the immigration system.

Coun Fox added: ‘‘As a city we will stand shoulder to shoulder and in these times of crisis Sheffield will always stand up for what’s right.’’

Dr Lena Mandrik, representing the Ukrainian community, said: ‘‘Thank you for all the support we have got from the council so far. We are overwhelmed by how warm people in Sheffield are.

‘‘Urgent changes are needed on national level and without that we won’t be able to reach peace in Ukraine.’’

Written by Gabriella Crisp

First year Journalism student

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