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Chloe Wolfe – Charity Manager
I grew up reading céad míle fáilte every day on the front door of mine, my grandparents’, my aunts’ and uncles’ homes. It means ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’ in Gaelic. To me, the concept of welcome is a thread that weaves throughout all of our lives; to show people they are not alone.
I have had the privilege of working at Swindon City of Sanctuary as Charity Manager since 2023, attending We’re Open for many years before that. I have always cared deeply about the experiences of people seeking sanctuary, having studied International Development at University, focusing on instances of genocide, channel crossings and the displacement of millions of people around the globe. It has always been important to me to champion the voices and experiences of people who have been forced to flee their homes.
Dina Na Yeri’s quote is something I try to live by: “It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room, to open the door when danger knocks.” This is what Swindon City of Sanctuary does. We welcome those who are new to Swindon, some fleeing unimaginable terror, others simply moving from another town or city wanting to explore a new start. I have been lucky to work and volunteer in different counties across Africa, Asia and Europe and have always been so kindly welcomed into the communities of the people I worked and lived with. This is what we hope to do in Swindon. No matter who, we believe everyone deserves to feel the joy of being part of a community of people who care about you.
Aderonke Akinyele – Streams and Awards Co-ordinator
I have always had a keen interest co-ordinating projects that benefit communities. This has been a guiding force in my career. Working as Streams and Awards Co-ordinator is a rewarding role: the work focuses on promoting understanding and acceptance between members of our diverse community, embedding the values of welcome and inclusion, and building an understanding of the experiences of people seeking sanctuary within different professions and organisations.
My professional journey has been diverse, encompassing roles in art galleries, collaborations with art institutions, and contributions to museums and an auction house. I have volunteered with people seeking sanctuary in Italy, which was a profoundly formative experience. The ethos of the City of Sanctuary movement resonates deeply with me: our core mission is to extend a warm welcome to all. Being part of Swindon City of Sanctuary and collaborating with a team that shares a deep commitment to nurturing an inclusive environment and cherishing cultural diversity is an incredibly enriching experience.
Amanda Black – Volunteer Co-ordinator
At Swindon City of Sanctuary, we celebrate the rich cultural diversity here in Swindon and we love learning about the many different foods, music, experiences, passions, and beliefs of others. We all share an understanding that a community is made stronger when differences are celebrated and when everybody has an opportunity to nurture and care for the place that has become home. I joined SCoS at the start of 2022, and I am passionate about working with the charity to promote the importance of showing welcome and support to everybody.
Through my role, I am involved with campaigns that raise awareness of seeking sanctuary and migration. These campaigns work to share an understanding of the experiences of others and to change laws to protect the rights of people who have had to leave their homes for fear of losing their or their families lives.
Hevin Jaffar – Project Co-ordinator (Family Activity Boxes)
I am Kurdish, from Syria where I was a primary school teacher. I loved my job and hearing my students’ ideas. I had lots of experience in arts and crafts, and I enjoyed Arabic storytelling.
There was conflict in my country and it wasn’t safe, so I had to leave. In 2011, we got a chance to travel to the UK. I know what it is like to move to a new town, I know what the feelings, difficulties and worries are for people seeking sanctuary in Swindon. Moving from a country that has a very different culture can be hard and overwhelming and there is a famous saying in the Middle East saying, “الغريب أعمى ولو كان بصيراً a stranger is blind even if he/she sees.” Coming from a country with war or conflict, it’s not always about the physical effects, it’s about the trauma.
I began working with Swindon City of Sanctuary in 2023, where I work with schools and talk about fusion, celebrating our cultures together, accepting each other and collaborating to achieve success for all. “العلم في الغربة وطن.. والجهل في الوطن غربة!.” It is important to me to work in a charity like SCoS, having the opportunity to celebrate culture, share knowledge and help people as much as I can.
Ben Jackson (Chair)
I’d been a charity trustee for some years prior to joining Swindon City of Sanctuary as Chair in 2018. I really wanted to use my experience of leadership in the private sector to help a local charity, and SCoS seemed a perfect fit.
I recognise that I am lucky to have always lived in the UK – a safe, liberal society as a whole – and I’ve felt uneasy for some time about the demonisation of migrants in the political and media spheres. For me, helping an organisation to support people who have lived through often horrific danger and abuse in their home countries felt like the least I could do. The fact that SCoS is about creating an inclusive culture for our entire community, not just those seeking sanctuary, was the icing on the cake.
As one of the original founders of SCoS, I have a deep attachment to our charity and to the nation-wide City of Sanctuary Movement as a whole. I am a trustee and volunteer, volunteering firstly as production manager for the launch of SCoS in 2016, then co-ordinator for Refugee Week events in Swindon during 2017-19 and finally as assistant lead for our Schools initiative. I also support our group with many other initiatives from fundraising to attending training courses.
I worked for over 30 years in the education sector as a Drama teacher, Head of Department and Head of Faculty and have an enduring commitment to Arts Education as a whole. The importance of the arts as a vehicle for change, social integration and for fostering empathy within a community can never be underestimated.
Since retiring from secondary school English teaching in 2016, I have remained actively involved in global education developments – I became a Volunteer with Swindon City of Sanctuary in 2017 and a Trustee in 2018 after launching Swindon’s ambitious Schools of Sanctuary Network. This Network encourages primary and secondary schools across the town to work towards becoming nationally accredited Schools of Sanctuary.
The schools’ work has included developing some significant projects and initiatives in collaboration with other individuals and organisations in Swindon to support schools in promoting a culture of welcome and inclusion. The work allows young people to critically explore the often inaccurate, yet popular narrative presented in our news media about seeking asylum; it focuses on getting to know how the complex and challenging asylum process works and its impact on people who have fled conflict in their home countries to seek sanctuary here with us in the UK.
What motivates me as a Trustee? Simply having the opportunity to work collaboratively and empathically to challenge the popular narrative and shape Swindon’s culture of welcome and inclusion. It’s our commitment to ensure that people and organisations in our town work together in understanding each other and to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive community for all of us – whoever we are and however long we’ve been here. There’s no doubt that collective, positive actions enrich our vibrant and exciting culturally diverse town.
I was born and raised in Swindon and I’m incredibly proud to be associated with a charity and a movement that does so much to promote a culture of inclusion in my home town.
The past several years have been divisive and traumatic ones across the world. People have been displaced from their homes and forced to seek sanctuary elsewhere, but continue to face appalling obstacles and hardships. Promoting empathy in our discussions around these issues, and welcome in our communities, is one of the things that we can do to ensure people who are fleeing persecution and danger can make a new life for themselves here, and be a part of our national life.
SCoS plays an essential role in enabling people seeking sanctuary both to tell their stories and to find the support they need. I hope we can continue to play our part in changing the local and national conversation in the years to come.
No man is an island; we all get supported every day, either knowingly or otherwise, through the journey of our entire life. The best we can do to be able to pay for our time on Earth is by at least making a positive difference to another person’s life other than yours.
‘Volunteering’. That is a true meaning of not only be a human being but a true being. That is engraved vividly in the mission and vision of Swindon City of Sanctuary. Helping sanctuary seekers at the time of need and creating awareness by highlighting their plight. Therefore, Swindon City of Sanctuary’s vision and mission together with its enthusiastic team was and is a force for me to be a member of the trustee board.
I have been involved in Swindon City of Sanctuary since 2017. Before that I had always had a passion for social justice and after several trips to ‘The Jungle’ in Calais I looked for ways to get involved in helping migrants who came to the UK. My first involvement was in providing accommodation for migrants who had arrived in Swindon and having received their right to remain no longer could rely on the local authority for help. This taught me so much about the lives beyond the media headlines of this group of people that I decided to be part of an organisation that could protect and support them.
SCoS as an organisation reflect my own values and I am pleased to be able to work towards making Swindon a welcoming and inclusive town to all who arrive looking to build new lives.
Bio to follow
I have been a Trustee at Swindon City of Sanctuary since 2020. With a corporate and commercial background and as a qualified accountant, I am able to use my skills to support with charity finance and fundraising. I’m proud to be part of a positive team, bringing the community together.
Swindon City of Sanctuary’s vision and missions are aligned with my own values and I am delighted to be part of such a passionate charity.