I’ve been volunteering with City of Sanctuary for over two years. I was inspired to join because of the ethos of community and making our city a place of welcome to those who have been displaced. This was done through regular opportunities to meet, talk and laugh at community coffee mornings, English classes, community walks, art groups and big conversation events (plus a host of other events too). But as COVID-19 shut down our ability to meet face to face, Manchester City of Sanctuary has had to change.
I have been part of the check in and chat programme that has been running while lockdown has been enforced, regularly checking in with four sanctuary seekers. We hope to provide support to sanctuary seekers cut off during lockdown, to tackle the feelings of isolation and to show we are thinking of them, offering assistance if needed. Mainly my conversations with the four revolved around the weather, the food we have been cooking and the frustrations of being stuck in the same four walls. But it has been good to connect and feel part of a community even in these strange times. As restrictions ease, we are waiting to see what the next phase will be and we will continue to adapt our approach.