Rooted in the conviction that there is that of God in every person, Quakers across Britain are working to welcome people seeking sanctuary.


Sanctuary Meetings Q and A

How to become a Sanctuary Meeting

Being a Sanctuary Meeting

Inspired by the Sanctuary Churches Movement in the US, a Sanctuary Meeting is a protective community with people whose basic human rights are being violated by government officials. The public practice of sanctuary also holds the state accountable for its violation of human rights.

Being a Sanctuary Meeting means your local meeting committing to building a culture of welcome, challenging racism in all of its forms and being part of changing the laws on destitution, detention, and deportation.

What does it involve?

  • Building alliances with migrant or BME-led anti-racist groups in your area.
  • Offering accompaniment to any who requests it in negotiating 'everyday borders' (e.g. in the heath or education system) and assisting in campaigns to resist deportation.
  • Holding at least one public meeting a year with other local groups, especially people with direct experience of being discriminated against by the border system.
  • Lobbying local politicians.
  • Dismantling 'borders' to participation in the Quaker community and campaigns.

It might also include:

  • If your meeting has a local City of Sanctuary group, affiliating with it.
  • If your meeting is based in the countryside, linking up with a more urban group to provide holidays or short breaks for asylum seekers.
  • If your meeting is close to a Quaker school, working together on projects to assist asylum seeking children.
  • If your meeting is within travelling distance of an immigration detention centre, at least one person joining a visiting group, upheld by – and reporting back to – the meeting
  • If your meeting owns property, considering turning these into houses of hospitality for destitute asylum seekers

What is happening already?

Quakers across Britain are working in different ways to welcome newcomers to the country. These include providing housing for destitute asylum seekers , supporting and setting up City of Sanctuary groups, welcoming resettled refugees, hosting community gardening projects, and campaigning with the Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network.

Through a 6 month listening, threshing and decision making process in early 2017, Friends expressed a desire for greater support with current work and developing new projects. Friends also wanted a more coordinated way of working together for political change.


By committing to being a Sanctuary Meeting, your local meeting becomes part of an international movement to build a culture of hospitality. You will be supported with training, publicity materials, retreats, teleconferences and mutual support networks, channelled into a campaign for political change.


Meetings will be able to sign up to become Sanctuary Meetings from August 2017.

To become a Sanctuary Meeting requires a commitment from your local meeting to building a culture of welcome, challenging racism in all of its forms and working together to change the laws on destitution, detention and deportation).

It also requires at least two people to agree to be a point of contact for Friends House (involving participating in the training, retreats and catch-up etc). At least one of these people should be a member or attender at your meeting.

To find out more about forced migration and what what it means to be a Sanctuary Meeting, listen to the Sanctuary editions of the Q:Witness podcast below.

Contact us

To ask any questions, or to tell us that your meeting wants to be a Sanctuary Meeting, please get in touch using the below details with your name, meeting, and telephone number.

Sanctuary Everywhere Programme
020 7663 1096