International Migrants Day: Why being a City of Sanctuary is so important to Birmingham

Today is International Migrants Day and Cllr Nicky Brennan looks at how Birmingham continues to honour its commitments as a City of Sanctuary.

Every year International Migrants Day provides an opportunity to celebrate migration and how migrants have helped to build and shape our world.

In 2023, now more than ever, we need to counter the overriding national narrative that migration is wrong – it is not, it has always been part of human behaviour – and many of those who arrive in the UK are escaping, injustice, violence and war.

Birmingham is a city that has been built on migration and our city’s diversity is its greatest strength – the bedrock of thriving businesses and its flourishing arts, culture and sports.

Our city’s very fabric is the product of centuries of migration woven together to make a city famed for its Balti triangle, St Patrick’s Day celebrations, thriving Chinese quarter, and a myriad cultures such as African Caribbean, Central, South and East Asian, and Centra and Eastern European.

This is why our status as a City of Sanctuary is so important – Birmingham has long been known for its warm welcome and being a place where people can seek refuge and build new lives free from persecution and war.

Last year Birmingham City Council became the first local authority to sign up to pledges in the national campaign against the Illegal Migration Act.

The ongoing war in Gaza has led the council to recently back a motion calling on the Government to provide aid into the country and to help British nationals, and to engage with any Government schemes to ensure that all refugees are given a warm welcome in Birmingham.

The council’s Refugees and Migration team recently awarded Sanctuary Grants, funded by the Home Office to 15 local community and third sector organisations to help provide essential services for people seeking asylum in Birmingham.

The council also supports the Lift the Ban campaign, calling for the right to work for people who have sought asylum in the UK, many of whom have valuable skills and experience that they want to use.

On International Migrants Day, you can join in by sharing positive messages on X using hashtags #ItTakesACommunity #Migrants Day and tagging @IOM_UK @IMIX_UK @UNMigration. Social media resources are available online support you.

Cllr Nicky Brennan is Cabinet Member for Social Justice, Community Safety and Equalities.

This post was published on 18 December 2023

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