We currently have 2 Employees, 8 trustees and 4 advisors:
Jane Graystone: Development Worker
I’m a linguist by training, but I quickly discovered that I really enjoyed learning languages to be able to communicate with people who were different from me. The first asylum seekers I met at 19, were fleeing from the war in Lebanon in 1988. Their life, abandoned, on hold, waiting for authorities to decide their fate, made a deep impression on me, as did their generosity, giving me their last tin of black olives as a gift.
I worked as a youth worker for several years and did my postgraduate studies in community work. This vocation took me to ex-pit villages, to economically deprived parts of England and to social housing estates to live and learn to treasure the relationships.
I worked as a family support worker for families with children with disabilities, then at a Sure Start Centre with young parents before developing Levenshulme Inspire ,as the centre manager, to be a place of diversity and opportunities for volunteering.
With Manchester City of Sanctuary, I’m experiencing the joys and challenges of supporting people who are forced to seek asylum: far from home and family, having to adapt to a new language and culture. I’ve found myself journeying from pity to admiration at the resilience of people seeking freedom and justice.
I’m a pioneer by nature, more eager for participation than perfection. I’m passionate about being a catalyst for welcome and opportunities: for local people to share their goodwill and hospitality and for new arrivals to share their skills and culture with us. I cherish voluntary energy and ideas and look forward to developing the team further this year.
Liz Hibberd: Development Assistant
I’ve been involved in education for around 13 years, first of all working as a primary teacher, then moving overseas to teach English as a Foreign Language, which I did until 2015. Through this work I have witnessed the barriers that many people face trying to access education, as well as the importance is has on equipping people for the difficulties they encounter throughout their lives. Having lived in South America, Egypt, Thailand and Qatar, as well as travelling extensively through S.E Asia, Central America and Africa, I am privileged to have a unique understanding and awareness of different cultures and value the need to work and live in ways which welcome and support diversity.
Volunteering in the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais, France, made a real impact on me and changed the direction of my MA studies. I decided to focus on education and refugees and analyse the support teachers have in terms of understanding the refugee experience. My research showed that teachers don’t feel they have the knowledge or confidence to facilitate their students’ awareness or understanding of the current situation despite them wanting to challenge prejudice and explore the issue further.
Partly as a result of this, I became more passionate about supporting the integration of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as raising the awareness of the refugee journey to those who have limited interaction with newcomers to the UK. By promoting understanding and questioning perceived notions, I hope to create a space where genuine dialogue and engagement can take place. Through my work with Manchester City of Sanctuary, I aim to do this. Highlighting commonalities and understanding the lives of others is the first step towards recognising our shared humanity and working towards a world where everyone is made to feel welcome and at home.
David Wilkin: Co-chair
I have a lot of experience working in the third sector in Manhcester in a variety of capacities. Responsible for leading the University’s successful tender to secure a ten year (£20m) contract for the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, setting out a comprehensive programme of policy relevant R&D in all aspects of primary health care. As Chief Executive of NPCRDC until June 1999, I was responsible for the leadership and management of the Centre, including strategic oversight, content of the research and development programme, personnel, financial management and collaboration with partner institutions. Seven senior staff, including three Professors and two Readers, were directly accountable to me and I was responsible for the management of more than fifty academic and support staff. The annual budget of the Centre was in excess of £3m. I took early retirement in 2002, although I remain Professor Emeritus at the University of Manchester.
David Few: Co-chair
I am a teacher in a school in Stockport and have been working with City of Sanctuary since 2010. I first got involved with Sanctuary seekers when Dave Smith, from the Boaz Trust (an incredible individual who has written two excellent books on sanctuary seekers), visited a church ho
use group I used to attend. I was blown away by the cruelty that our nation visits on vulnerable people, and how often their human rights are abused. I decided to offer what I could as a volunteer in helping such people through what I felt I was best at: facilitating fun, uplifting events which hold human dignity and enjoyment of the present moment. I taught English classes at the mustard tree as a volunteer for a short time before starting City of Sanctuary with Charles Kwaku-Odoi and Dave Smith. Over time this fun has proven to be insufficient in meeting our members needs: often they need tangible, ‘strong’ forms of welcome as well as fun spaces, and so City of Sanctuary is evolving to offer more pragmatic help, such as with foodbanks, cycling schemes and English classes. I was feeling quite overwhelmed by being the chairperson of a CIO, but with the arrival of David Wilkin (who is an absolute Godsend!) I feel that the pressure on having a clear understanding of all the things we are doing is somewhat relieved and I feel able to work in the capacity of co-chair. I had hoped that, when I was offering to step down, a Sanctuary Seeker would volunteer to take my place: I feel it would be more appropriate for a Sanctuary Seeker to lead City of Sanctuary rather than a privileged, white, British male. Nonetheless, I hope that my contribution to City of Sanctuary is one that is positive, and will continue to try and work with sanctuary seekers, rather than for them, and not be a ‘white saviour’ as an awesome Sanctuary Seeker activist recently warned me against! Overall, I want to ensure that our members can have uplifting and light hearted experience with us regardless of how difficult their outside life might be and will endeavor to continue realising that goal with, not for, our members.
Charles Kwaku Odoi: Treasurer
Eve’s experience spans public policy, practice and governance with 15 years as a solicitor specialising in public law. This included work with refugees and asylum seekers alongside advice and representation on education, health, mental health and social care matters.
Eve is a co-founder and Director at Happen Together CIC, helping people make good stuff happen through systems coaching, facilitation and training. Focus on inclusive participation, purposeful collaboration and supporting wellbeing in community, workplace and public sector.
Eve has leadership, management and governance experience across a range of settings. This includes being a Co-opted member for a Manchester City Council Scrutiny Committee for 4 years and a local leader of governance.
Eve lives and works in Greater Manchester where she is well connected in networks spanning public, private and third sector. She is an active member of the community to include being a volunteer and co-lead at Bike Hive, DivaManc, Parliament Project North, M4, PushPedalScoot, a local wellbeing project and a number of schools.
Divisional Director – Investment Management at Brewin Dolphin
Iranian born sanctuary seeker. Amazing chef, artist, actor and all round mother of City of Sanctuary. Is always found taking care of everyone! 🙂
Our 5 advisors are: Mohsen, Barley, Maryam, Shamim and Zeeshan. These advisors are all sanctuary seekers and the board of trustees reports to them 4 times a year to receive feedback and advice on our progress, challenges, and where we should be focusing resources.