Cohesion and Sanctuary

In 2007, with the support of the City Council, Sheffield became the UK’s first ‘City of Sanctuary’ for asylum-seekers and refugees—demonstrating our pride in the welcome we offer to people in need of safety. In practice, this means that the city provides:

  • The Sanctuary, a city-centre premises where people seeking sanctuary can come for relaxation, support and advice.
  • Participation in forums and networks around the city to make sure the refugee voice is heard and acknowledged amongst policy makers, service providers and members of the public.
  • A welcome to newly arrived asylum seekers and a basic introduction to life in Sheffield.
  • Management of the multi-agency drop-in at Victoria Hall where asylum seekers and refugees come for help and advice.
  • A team of refugee and asylum seeker volunteers who deliver talks and interactive sessions to schools, faith and community groups and service providers. 
  • Events to enable people from different backgrounds to meet and share food and music and other aspects of their respective cultures

To further Sheffield’s strength in partnership working with the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sectors, Sheffield is the first city in England to create and co-produce a Social Cohesion Strategy and set up an independent cross sector partner organisation to lead cohesion work in the city. 

Developing Cohesion in Sheffield

Since its inception Cohesion Sheffield has brought together businesses, community, voluntary faith and statutory organisations to establish their individual cohesion action plans. These feed into the citywide framework for cohesion that aims to treat everyone with dignity and respect. This film captures some of the many voices from young to old working together to make Sheffield a cohesive city.

Cohesion Sheffield was created in 2017 as the backbone organisation to implement delivery of the Citywide Cohesion Strategic Framework, which was written as a joint strategy by Sheffield Cohesion Advisory Group (CAG)  and Sheffield City Council. It is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, with additional funding from Sheffield City Council and other partners.

A cohesive city works and grows together. This requires building good relationships with neighbours, partners and promoting trust between communities across the city. We recognise that good relations require a commitment to equality and justice, and we regard economic opportunity and well-being as essential conditions for cohesion. We all benefit, not just particular social groups. Social cohesion creates a safe and resilient city for all. It’s good for the economic prosperity of the city, its people and its businesses.

Cohesion Sheffield operates on the principle that social cohesion is not undermined by diversity but by inequality and poverty. If you tackle the root causes and in true partnership and in a fair and clearly communicated way then you can make great and long term progress. Also, if you look at your work through a cohesion lens, you can ensure what you do every day promotes a more cohesive place and does not undermine cohesion.

Collaboration is key to bringing about cohesion in the community. Cohesion Advisory Group, Sheffield City Council and VAS worked to bring about the setting up of Cohesion Sheffield in May 2017. After collaborative planning the organisation was branded and launched at Sheffield Winter Gardens in October 2017. It held its first full day Cohesion Conference in Sheffield Town Hall in March 2018.