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Drive to make schools a safe haven for refugees arriving into the county

PUBLISHED: 09:26 11 March 2017 | UPDATED: 09:26 11 March 2017

Avenue Junior School council members, and teacher Jake Brown, lead in the Norwich Sanctuary of Schools programme, a nationwide initiative to celebrate schools who welcome asylum seekers and refugee families into the school community. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Avenue Junior School council members, and teacher Jake Brown, lead in the Norwich Sanctuary of Schools programme, a nationwide initiative to celebrate schools who welcome asylum seekers and refugee families into the school community. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

A new county wide scheme hopes to encourage schools to become sanctuaries for those in need of help.

Avenue Junior School council members, and teacher Jake Brown, lead in the Norwich Sanctuary of Schools programme, a nationwide initiative to celebrate schools who welcome asylum seekers and refugee families into the school community. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAvenue Junior School council members, and teacher Jake Brown, lead in the Norwich Sanctuary of Schools programme, a nationwide initiative to celebrate schools who welcome asylum seekers and refugee families into the school community. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich Schools of Sanctuary movement was launched at Avenue Junior School last week, as part of a drive to see the city recognised as a City of Sanctuary.

The nationwide initiative - which started in Yorkshire and has spread across the country - celebrates good practice of cities, and their schools, that extend a welcome to everyone, from asylum seekers and refugees to minorities.

Jake Brown, Norwich Schools of Sanctuary lead, said: “As educators, many of us have been trying to help our pupils make sense of the refugee crisis in Europe as it has unfolded in recent years.

“The Schools of Sanctuary programme is a way for schools in Norfolk to engage positively with what it means to be seeking sanctuary and refuge and to publicly commit themselves to being a safe and inclusive space where everyone is welcome.”

About 30 schools, headteachers and parents attended the launch of the scheme - which is welcoming interest from schools around Norfolk - last week.

Pupils at Avenue Junior have raised more than £1,000 at a Christmas carol concert to buy mattresses for Syrian refugee families resettling in Norwich, while donations of children’s books, toys and equipment have been collected.

They are also making a short film, supported by BBC Voices, that explores Norwich’s history as a City of Sanctuary, and will paint a mural celebrating their award as a School of Sanctuary.

About 30 parents and staff members have come together to form a Refugee Action Group, to support local communities where possible.

Also, in June, the school plans to hold a Refugee Week in which children discuss the crisis in Europe and will reflect on reasons why people flee their homes.

For more information about the scheme, click here and if you are interested in signing up, email Mr Brown at info@norwichschoolsofsanctuary.org

• Do you have an education story that we should be writing about? Email our education correspondent on lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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