On Monday 26 October Sanctuary on Sea Brighton and Hove held its first Annual General Meeting at the BMECP. With about 50 members attending, the new Sanctuary on Sea Committee was elected and the future priorities as well as progress of working groups discussed. Additionally, guest speakers Lucy Bryson and Leo Littman – both from the City Council and artist Bern O’Donohue gave interesting guest talks.
We are proud to announce that our Committee has increased! The new Sanctuary on Sea Committee has 16 members. They are:
Jenny (chair), Janee, Mark (treasurer), Richard (vice chair), Lucy, Angie, Linda (secretary), Andrew, Sylvie, Nadine (Sussex Syrian Community Group), Cathy, Reima Judith, Mike (Sussex University), Elaine (Hummingbird) and Sam (Children in Calais) shared membership
The first Committee meeting where concrete plans and priorities will be decided is being held at the beginning of November.
Additionally, to the elections the AGM’s speakers gave interesting insights into art as a political means to advocate for refugee rights as well as the progress on the City Council’s plans to welcome Syrian refugees on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. The first three families are expected to arrive by Christmas.
The Brighton based artist Bern Donoghue started her refugee crossing project in August this year. Starting with Bern folding a boat for every refugee who has drowned in the Mediterranean, the project has grown to a worldwide community of people in 70 cities in the UK, Texas, Spain, Italy and Hungary regularly folding boats. Facts that are written on the boats challenge media narratives and many photos have been sent to politicians.
Lucy Bryson, from the Council’s Community Safety Team, gave an update on plans for the relocation of Syrian families, warning that, although they will be entitled to benefits, families will be affected by the benefit cap, as are many people in Brighton. The Council is continuing to look for landlords willing to rent their properties at benefit levels. Councillor Leo Littman explained the role of the Council and how it is keen to work together with Sanctuary on Sea in the future.
Finally, the feedback session from the working groups formed at the meeting on 17 September gave an interesting insight into progress that has been made. Next year, Siriol Hugh-Jones is organising a music festival featuring classical music by composers that have been refugees in their lifetimes, as well as performances that span cultures and genres. The groups supporting refugees and migrants in Calais have been extremely active. A health clinic was set up last week end and, an artists’ space, women and children centres, and communal areas established. The priority continues to be to get the most vulnerable out of the Jungle. For more information check The Hummingbird Project, Children of Calais, The School Bus Project or Brighton2Calais.