Last week Birmingham was formally announced as a City of Sanctuary, in recognition of the efforts to offer shelter and safety to those in need. During an event at the Council House on Friday (December 4) to mark the announcement, the following speech was made by Cllr Shafique Shah. Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety:

I am delighted to be here today as Cabinet Member for Inclusion and Community Safety to help raise awareness of the importance of welcome and the value that refugees bring to the cultural and political life of this great city.

As you will know, in July the City Council confirmed its commitment to support the campaign to establish Birmingham as a ‘City of Sanctuary’, which has had overwhelming support.

I hope today will provide a platform to build partnerships between the organisations supporting refugees and some of the most significant organisations (commercial, industrial and public service) that effect our lives and further build on the efforts of local people and community groups who have already committed to creating a culture of welcome and safety in the city. It is great to see so many of you here today.

Work in the wider Birmingham community is particularly important now because of the increasing numbers arriving in Western Europe and fears about terrorism, so I hope today also provides an opportunity to explore possible solutions to problems. I am sure many of you will be able to share your examples throughout the day and have an opportunity to network.

Earlier this week we announced that Refugee Action, a well-respected organisation with many years’ experience, will provide support services for the 50 refugees we will be welcoming to Birmingham through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme given the urgent need for a response to this humanitarian tragedy. The first refugees will be arriving before Christmas with the remainder expected in the new year.

I am sure we will all work together to help integrate and support the new arrivals in their new life in Birmingham and I look forward to working with many of you in the future.