Childcare scheme recognised for welcoming refugees

Humanity Wall: Pic by Matteo Paganelli

A childcare scheme in Tower Hamlets has received a national Sanctuary Award in recognition of its work welcoming those fleeing conflict and persecution.

The council-led Tower Hamlets Holiday Childcare Scheme looks after local children during the school holidays. It received the award for educating children on what it means to seek asylum, and how we can best welcome and include those seeking asylum into our society.

Initiatives include inviting speakers with an experience of seeking asylum to speak to the children, and creating workshops on identity, migration and refugees alongside Global Learning London. Its aim is to help children better understand the positive impacts and benefits that people seeking asylum can have on our multicultural society.

Schools of Sanctuary recognises initiatives to create a safe and welcoming space for those seeking it, whether they are fleeing persecution abroad or violence at home in the UK. Schools of Sanctuary said the award recognised the “work and ongoing commitment to engage with and celebrate the positive contribution of refugees and asylum seekers” by the Tower Hamlets project. It is the first childcare provider in the UK to be recognised in this way.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said in response to the award: “The East End has a long and proud tradition of welcoming people from all over the world, especially those who have escaped war and persecution… By introducing children to the contribution that people seeking sanctuary make to our community, we can foster a welcoming and inclusive culture from an early age.”

James Thomas, director of Children and Culture at Tower Hamlets council added: “I hope it will act as a catalyst for further conversations across the council, and in society more widely, about the positive contribution made by those seeking sanctuary.”

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