Bradford has long held a tradition of welcoming and accepting asylum seekers and refugees into their community to the extent that it has been formally recognised with the title ‘City of Sanctuary’.
Faith communities within the city have been active in different ways to make this happen, but they have not always been cohesive in their approach.
A group was called to action by City of Sanctuary to steer the city in the right direction and examine at these issues.
UK aid charity, Muslim Hands, works with displaced communities both in the UK and 40 countries abroad.
Representatives from organisations such as Council for Mosques, Bradford Hate Crime, BEACON and Bradford Action For Refugees sat in on the group which has been running for about eight months.
The aim was for these organisations to take lead and offer support to organisations of faith but also of no faith and offer them practical support in assisting The Asylum and refugee community coming to Bradford.
Their first steps were to put together a statement which all faith communities would adhere to, as they have a particular religious commitment to communities fleeing from difficulty and requiring sanctuary.
Sofia Buncy, the group’s spokesperson from Muslim Hands said: “We are pleased to be involved and support faith communities and mainstream organisations in assisting the asylum seeker and refugee community seeking sanctuary in Bradford.”
She continued: “Simply on a moral and ethical level we have a strong commitment to this and Bradford has a long standing history of welcoming and accepting new and diverse communities.
“We have started to see a lot of projects being initiated by churches and mosques and we welcome the other faith communities who have joined this initiative.
“Today has been a resounding success and shows the will of the major faith communities in coming together to support such an important cause.”
In attendance were Bishop Toby Howarth, Bradford Mayor and Mayoress, Sofia Buncy of Muslim Hands and Maqsood Ahmed OBE Muslim Hands; Rafiq Seghal and Ishtiaq Ahmed Council for Mosques, Rudi Levor- Jewish Synagogue, Balu Lad- Hindu Rep, Nirmal Singh- West Yorkshire Sikh Forum, Will Sutcliffe- City of Sanctuary and other representatives from City of Santuary, and Bradford Hate Crime- Jed Din.