THE team behind a drive to turn Swindon into a ‘City of Sanctuary’ will get their campaign underway next week.

Launched in 2005, the national movement aims to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary across the UK.

Their goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country that are proud to be places of safety for people seeking sanctuary with a view to helping them integrate into their local communities.

Swindon is the latest part of the country to join the movement which has already spread to some 60 towns and cities..

Individuals, organisations and businesses can get involved by signing a pledge form committing to take at least one specific action to make those seeking sanctuary feel more included in Swindon.

This can be anything from positive social media activity to volunteering to directly help those in need.

Nicola Johnson, Chairman of Swindon City of Sanctuary, said: “Swindon has a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers.

“We felt it was high time that this was formally acknowledged, celebrated and, most importantly, supported by the wider community - that’s what Swindon City of Sanctuary stands for.

“Our free launch event on October 13 is promising to be a very special, utterly unique evening with performers from India, Iran, Mongolia, Sudan and Swindon sharing the stage with key people in the movement.

“We are particularly thrilled that Tiffy Allen will be flying in from Ireland to join us. As the National Co-ordinator of City of Sanctuary, she is the figurehead for the movement and embodies its culture of welcome and support. All are more than welcome to this free event.

“We are encouraging Swindonians to sign pledges, offering practical support to refugees and asylum seekers in our community.

“These are people who have fled war and persecution - they’ve had to leave everything behind.

“Yet they bring all kinds of skills, art, food and culture that enrich our town, which we believe should be celebrated.”

The launch will coincide with the opening night of Harbour Fest, an exciting four day mutli-cultural arts event organised by the team at the Harbour Project.