On Sunday 24 June 2018, Birmingham Cathedral hosted the UK’s first official Sanctuary Sunday Service. The service paid tribute all who have found, and continue to find, refuge in our city.
Sanctuary Sunday is the final Sunday in Refugee Week, which runs from 18th- 24th June. Birmingham responded to the call from Christian Aid, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and City of Sanctuary for churches to mark this day as an annual event by hosting a special Sanctuary Sunday Service at the Cathedral. City of Sanctuary’s founder, Inderjit Bhogal, gave the address at the service. Refugee and multicultural groups also participated in the service.
As well as the Sanctuary Sunday Service, on Tuesday 19th June members of the public were invited to tie a ribbon onto a tree in Cathedral Square (pictured), as an act of remembrance for those who came to Britain on the Empire Windrush 70 years ago. Passers-by joined in this public act of commemoration that included reflection, prayers and symbolic acts for all those who have found sanctuary, accompanied by African drumming.
Since the middle of the 19th Century, Birmingham has had a long history of supporting people fleeing persecution and conflict. During the Second World War refugees were mainly Jewish and Polish escaping the tyranny of the Nazis. After the war economic migration from the Commonwealth, Caribbean, India and Pakistan helped to bolster many of the industries in and around Birmingham. More recently, the city has welcomed those from Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, China, Syria and Zimbabwe.