Reading City of Sanctuary and University of Reading


The University of Reading works in partnership with Reading City of Sanctuary and Reading Refugee Support Group, staff and students across the University to coordinate activities that aim to make sanctuary seekers feel welcome at the University of Reading. Originally started as part of the Participation Lab, work towards the University of Sanctuary Award is now a key part of the University’s activities, endorsed by the University Executive Board. Read more on the University webpages:

Activities include:   

  • Working towards University of Sanctuary status, in partnership with key members of University staff, Reading University Student Union (RUSU), Student Action on Refugees (STaR) and the Universities of Sanctuary national initiative. We set up a University of Sanctuary working group in Reading and held the first meeting in February 2020. 
  • Helping to make the University Sanctuary Scholarship Scheme accessible to refugees and asylum-seekers.

According to Trustees, the Refugee Scholarship Scheme, launched in 2018, provides an “amazing opportunity to take the Reading City of Sanctuary forward”.

  • Befriending/tutoring refugees as part of the City of Sanctuary (CoS) support system
  • Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to postpone our plans to establish monthly Sanctuary Cafe meet-ups on campus for refugees, staff and students to meet informally, practise their English and find out more about studying at the University. We hope to launch this initiative in 2021, funded by Diversity and Inclusion Funds. Contact: Colin Campbell, or Ruth Evans, for more information.
  • We have set up the Sanctuary Coffee Bank initiative in cafes on campus where people can donate coffees to make refugees welcome on campus.

The University of Reading signed the Reading City of Sanctuary pledge in April 2017 and Reading was awarded City of Sanctuary status in July 2017. We launched the Reading City of Sanctuary-University Coordination Committee in September 2018.

Reading City of Sanctuary is building a network of businesses, organisations and individuals who by working together will help to build a culture of hospitality and welcome throughout Reading. The initiative seeks a commitment to taking practical steps to welcome and integrate all people into our communities, our activities and our culture in Reading.

City of Sanctuary is a national movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. The goal is to create a network of towns and cities throughout the UK which are proud to be places of safety, and which include people seeking sanctuary fully in the life of their communities.

Universities of Sanctuary: City of Sanctuary has partnered with Article 26, Student Action for Refugees and others to develop a network to inspire and support universities to develop a culture and a practice of welcome within their own institutions, in their wider communities, and across the Higher Education sector in the UK. A growing number of these universities are now being recognised as Universities of Sanctuary.

Participation Lab tweets