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Where can you go to an event where there are people of diverse ages (from 0-60!) from: Zimbabwe, Trinidad, UK, S.Africa, Albania, Iran, Ireland, Pakistan, Romania, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Syria all in one place, mixing together sharing food, friendship and fun? We’ll give you one guess! 😅 what a privilege it is to be part of this community.

City of Sanctuary took 50 Sanctuary Seekers and UK natives to beautiful Lyme park today for our annual party in the park. One member said it is ‘the best monument of the UK’! The weather was gorgeous (one of our members said “it’s like Barcelona!”) and we all enjoyed frisbee, food, games, walks in the beautiful countryside and as always great conversation and laughter. Our members are inspiring examples of humanity – time spent with them is always full of insight, meaning and is often sobering and uplifting at the same time.

 

‘It’s so important…just to take time to enjoy life.’ – Andy, sanctuary seeker and member of city of sanctuary.

 

For many of our members getting a little way out of the city to enjoy open space and some time dedicated to fun and relaxation is a rare opportunity. Especially for those of our members who are living in destitution the day was ‘fantastic’, according to Andy, one of the attendees. ‘It’s so important’, he reflected, ‘to see another side of life, especially to help with depression and just to enjoy life.’ For so many sanctuary seekers in Manchester the daily grind of simply surviving makes the idea of remembering ‘just to enjoy life’ almost impossible. Naheed, a local community organiser with Inspire, who was with us for the first time mentioned how she particularly enjoyed the ‘smiles on people’s faces…different communities making friends’ and that she ‘really enjoyed it’. It was such a fun day!

 

“A well organised event without being controlling…a great way for different communities and charity groups to come together. I really enjoyed it!” – Christian, local Mancunian musician

Party in the Park is a fantastic way to invigorate human dignity and a reminder to us all that the simple things in life- a walk in a peaceful forest, and sharing food with friends – are valuable moments that we would do well not to take for granted. Many of our members come from countries where peaceful public activities are sadly just a memory. In the spaces we facilitate a culture of welcome which everyone contributes has room to grow. It is this culture of welcome that we are committed to seeding and cultivating in our vibrant and diverse city.

What did our members think?

How would you sum up today in 1 word?

“Brilliant. Fun. Great. Friendly. Awesome. Adventurous. Fantastic. Incredible. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Wonderful. Magnificent. Glorious. Great time. Exciting. Fantastic. Diverse. Enjoyable. Amazing. Epic.”

And one five year old, who has definitely been eating her greens, said, ‘stupendous’!!!

 

Today was a collective effort of so many people. Many thanks to We Matter Manchester for providing funds for the coach journey, INSPIRE and St. Agnes for their support with delicious food and organisation, consistent support from Transformation Community Resource Center (particularly Pastor Charles Kwaku-Odoi) our fantastic volunteers – particularly Liz Hibberd and Simone – and of course our awesome members for making it all possible. A special thanks to Jane Graystone, our development worker, who works tirelessly for Sanctuary Seekers well being in Manchester. Finally a massive thank you to our amazing Patron, Diana Hamilton-Fairley, for ensuring funding for our activities for the next few years, and Michael Gorham for his continued generosity giving us the use of his flat for 2 years now. Without such generosity city of sanctuary simply would not exist.

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