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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Sanctuary@UniSouthampton Virtual Roundtable and Q&A, 18/06/2020

Published: 4 June 2020

NOTE: We are delighted to advertise this event, which features the Parkes Institute's Professor Tony Kushner as one of its speakers.

This virtual roundtable launches a crucial conversation about the need for Universities of Sanctuary, with a focus on the University of Southampton. With forced migration at a global high according to the UN Refugee Agency, providing sanctuary for people fleeing violence and persecution remains vital. Universities of Sanctuary promote cultures and practices of welcome, raising awareness and understanding of asylum and refugee issues, and offering resources and support to people seeking sanctuary.

The event takes place on 18th June 2020 , from 17.00 to 19.00 , British Summertime. Please register for it using the Zoom link here:


Universities of Sanctuary was founded in 2017, as a stream of the national charity City of Sanctuary U K. Since then, 16 UK universities have been awarded University of Sanctuary Status. In this roundtable a diverse line-up including speakers with academic, NGO, government and student backgrounds and lived experience of seeking sanctuary will discuss the UK Sanctuary movement, the importance of being a University of Sanctuary, and what needs to happen to realise this vision for Southampton. There will be a chaired audience Q&A session with the speakers following the roundtable.

Speakers for the roundtable are Nicola Walters , City of Sanctuary UK; Tony Kushner , University of Southampton; Maariyah Ahmed , Student Action for Refugees Southampton; Mike Brown , CLEAR Project; Esther Adeleke , University of Sanctuary Scholarship recipient; Steve Leggett , Councillor for Freemantle (bios below).

The roundtable will be chaired by Tess Altman , University of Southampton.

The roundtable is timed to coincide with Refugee Week , in solidarity with global efforts to support people seeking sanctuary. While the roundtable centres round the University of Southampton, the discussion will foster a wider dialogue, generating ideas and encouraging information sharing about solidarity and sanctuary.

It will hence appeal to anyone with an interest in issues of social justice, especially strategies for promoting welcome, safety and understanding for people seeking sanctuary.

The roundtable is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council through the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership .


Nicola Walters, City of Sanctuary UK.
Nicola is the South West Regional Coordinator for City of Sanctuary UK, a national charity that supports a UK wide network aiming to build a culture of welcome for people seeking sanctuary within their local communities. One of her roles is to support the development of Universities of Sanctuary across the south and south west of England. She is also the founder of Southampton Action, a charitable organisation supporting refugees and people seeking asylum in Southampton and across Europe, and a Refugee Integration Worker for CLEAR Project, an independent charity providing assistance to refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in Southampton.

Tony Kushner, University of Southampton.
Tony is Professor in the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations and History Department at the University of Southampton. He has written widely on the British Jewish experience, especially social history and comparative migration. His most recent books are The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys since 1685 (Manchester University Press, 2012) and Journeys from the Abyss: The Holocaust and Forced Migration from the 1880s to the Present (Liverpool University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a study of a Jewish triple murderer and, with Dr Aimee Bunting, Co-Presents to the Holocaust. He is co-editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice and deputy editor of Jewish Culture and History.

Maariyah Ahmed, Student Action for Refugees Southampton.
Maariyah is a medical student from the University of Southampton. She has been actively involved for two years as President and on the committee of the Southampton branch of Student Action for Refugees (STAR), a national network of university student groups seeking to improve conditions for refugees in the UK. She is working towards making the university and city of Southampton a more welcoming place for refugees and people seeking asylum.

Mike Brown, CLEAR Project.
Mike has worked in the refugee sector for 18 years. He is the Manager of CLEAR, an independent charity providing people seeking asylum, refugees and EU migrants in Southampton with free professional advice, ESOL and practical help. He is the Secretary of the City of Sanctuary Southampton Group CIO and formerly Chair of Haslar Visitors Group (now Friends Without Borders) and running bail workshops in Immigration Removal Centres for Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID). Prior to CLEAR, Mike worked for Refugee Action for 10 years, managing the regional delivery of Home Office contracts including the One Stop Service (OSS), the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES) and Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR), and held national posts in Policy and Legal Affairs.

Esther Adeleke, Universities of Sanctuary Scholarship recipient.
Esther is a tenacious and resourceful mother of two from Nigeria, where she graduated in Public Administration. She came to the UK in 2014 following the death of her second husband and claimed asylum. She writes the client newsletter for the Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group (SWVG) and co-presented the Deputation which established Southampton as a City of Sanctuary in 2017. Despite seemingly insurmountable barriers, she has continued her education in the UK, studying Nursing and Midwifery, and is now reading Community Health and Social Care at the University of Winchester. Her asylum claim is ongoing.

Steve Leggett, Councillor for Freemantle.
Steve got elected in 2018 as a Local Labour Councillor in Southampton and holds the cabinet portfolio for Green City & Place. Hobbies include running, cycling, gardening, allotment holder & all things to do with nature. As a Councillor he has engaged with local church groups in discussion with people seeking asylum and refugees, discussing on how they have found their experiences coming to Southampton. Various issues have been raised including the lack of access to higher education. Steve has been a student at University of Winchester since 2015 studying a BA in Global History Politics and an MA in Politics and International Relations. The University of Winchester was awarded University of Sanctuary status in 2018, the first in the South of England, and has been offering financial support since 2010. 24 Students from 16 countries have benefited from these initiatives, with 13 graduating.


Tess Altman, University of Southampton.
Tess is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Politics and International International Relations at the University of Southampton. Her research focuses on volunteer humanitarianism in support of forced migrants in climates of hostility. She has conducted research in Australia, Europe and New Zealand, and worked in government and NGO sectors on multiculturalism and social cohesion. She is committed to social justice in higher education and is organising this virtual roundtable as part of her fellowship project "Humanitarianism against hostility: Volunteer hospitality in Australia and Europe".

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