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What is a Garden of Sanctuary?

A Garden of Sanctuary is a garden that is committed to being a safe and welcoming place for those seeking sanctuary, which includes refugees and asylum seekers. It is a community growing space that helps volunteers, growers, any staff or committee and the wider community to understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary. A Garden of Sanctuary embeds policies and practices that ensure that everyone is treated as equal, valued members of the community, and actively welcomes sanctuary seekers to be part of their space.

Why become a Garden of Sanctuary?

Gardens are naturally therapeutic environments which provide varied opportunities for people of all ages, and can bring communities together. By becoming a Garden of Sanctuary you can:

  • Create a culture of welcome and belonging which is beneficial to everyone involved
  • Provide learning opportunities about what it means to be seeking sanctuary and dispel some of the negative myths that exist
  • Increase the diversity of people involved with your growing space and reach out to parts of the community you might not have reached before
  • Benefit from funding available for promoting social inclusion and working with marginalised communities

How to become a Garden of Sanctuary

You can apply to become a Garden of Sanctuary through the City of Sanctuary awards scheme. Awards have been given to schools, universities, theatres, businesses and many others as a way of celebrating and showcasing the huge variety of groups and organisations offering a welcome in the UK. To apply for a Sanctuary Award you will need to send in an online application with information and evidence from each of the following three areas:

Learn: finding out what it means to be seeking sanctuary, and to be actively involved in awareness-raising with all your participants and in the wider community.

Embed: taking positive action to make welcome and inclusion part of the values of your organisation and group, to offer an active welcome and opportunities for sanctuary seekers, and to include them at all levels of decision-making in relevant areas.

Share: sharing your vision and achievements within your organisation and in the wider community; letting others know about the positive contribution that sanctuary seekers make to our society and the benefits to all of a welcoming culture for everyone.

There is far more information and guidance on becoming a Garden of Sanctuary in the resource pack which is available as a free download.

If you receive the award you will be welcome (and encouraged!) to use the Gardens of Sanctuary logo at your community growing space and in any leaflets and publicity. The award lasts for three years and then needs to be re-applied for.

Award Assessment

We want to emphasise and celebrate the variety of ways that places can be Gardens of Sanctuary, and we recognise that not all gardens can, or will, have the same approach to being a place of sanctuary. The structure of the award assessment is flexible to allow for gardens to approach becoming a place of sanctuary in a way most suitable to their context. We will award Garden of Sanctuary accreditation where we see evidence that each of the Learn, Embed, Share principles is running through the group that is applying. This can be challenging, and additional support is available from the Gardens of Sanctuary partners and your local City of Sanctuary groups.

Applications for awards are assessed by your local City of Sanctuary group with support from the national Garden of Sanctuary peer review panel, Social Farms & Gardens, Permaculture Association and other experts if necessary. The panel will always include at least one sanctuary seeker, and will ideally involve a visit to your site as well as assessment of the application.

Mailing List

You can join the Gardens of Sanctuary mailing list here: https://data.cityofsanctuary.org/gardens/mailinglist

Training

In addition to the awards we hope to offer more in-depth support and training in the future delivered by trainers who have a good knowledge of best practice in working with refugees and asylum seekers in a community garden/farm setting.

The training would look at the following issues:

  • cultural awareness and sensitivities
  • overcoming language barriers
  • working with refugees and asylum seekers
  • tackling racism
  • creating safe spaces
  • inclusive working practices
  • growing and cooking world foods
  • working with BAME communities and organisations
  • becoming a Garden of Sanctuary

If you are interested in this type of training please get in touch.