Sanctuary in Politics

Last month, I had the pleasure again to do a few sessions at the latest Sanctuary in Politics course, this time held in Swansea.

This is an incredibly special training course, run by City of Sanctuary UK, and it’s basically political education for refugees and people seeking safety in the UK. I first got involved in this initiative when I was chair of trustees of City of Sanctuary UK, and we took this brilliant idea from our sister organisation in the Republic of Ireland – Places of Sanctuary Ireland.

And the idea behind it is incredibly simple. Many people seeking safety in this country had been political activists in their own country, but they were forced to flee and look for safety elsewhere. This course is all about educating such new arrivals into our country with the basics around how politics in the UK works.

Last month, I ran two 1 hour sessions. The first tried to cover Parliamentary history in the UK since 1832. It is somewhat challenging, trying to cover so much history in such a short period of time, particularly leaving time for questions.

But it is the questions that are always the most interesting element, and this time in Swansea was no different. I was intrigued by the participants’ questions, focusing on such things as: whether the UK has an effective separation of powers, how it conducts itself without a written constitution, and a sense of curiosity about the background of members of Parliament and how that has changed over the years.

And then my second session was an introduction to campaigning, where in one hour, I endeavoured to convey the 12 key questions that you need to be able to answer to do effective campaigning – and which I normally spend one to two days covering! One of the questions from the session still sticks with me, which was about what you do when you know that the government has commissioned a very useful piece of research, which could help your campaign, and they decide not to release it!

So do look out for this great initiative, and if there are ways that you could possibly support the development and roll-out of this innovative training course, then do please contact my colleagues at City of Sanctuary UK.

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