Oxfordshire is a county of sanctuary

Migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, are set to continue to be welcomed in Oxfordshire with the county council reaffirming the county’s status as a place of sanctuary.

On 7 November 2023, a motion was passed at full council saying that the county remains proud of its history of welcoming into the county people from abroad who are seeking safety.

This has been reaffirmed once again by Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who has signed a pledge to fight the anti-refugee laws on behalf of the council. The pledge calls on the government to repeal the Illegal Migration Act and the Nationality and Borders Act and to withdraw from the UK-Rwanda partnership.

Councillor Leffman said: “Our ambition in Oxfordshire is to support a refugee and asylum system that ensures a warm welcome for all new arrivals and embraces and supports independent living for those staying in the county. Oxfordshire is enhanced by the contribution of a range of diverse communities living here and we are committed to playing our part in the overall national and international challenge. To that end, Oxfordshire County Council is looking to become a recognised Council of Sanctuary.

“We are very proud of our work and our partners throughout the years in supporting migrants fleeing dangerous situations, and helping them to settle in our communities.

“We want to ensure that we can continue to provide a safe haven for vulnerable people, especially young people and children. That’s why I have also written to the home secretary to reaffirm our stance on supporting asylum seekers here in Oxfordshire.”

Through the Oxfordshire Migration Partnership, the county council is already supporting many vulnerable people who have arrived in the county on a range of different schemes, including Homes for Ukraine, Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, the UK Resettlement Scheme and Hong Kong (British National Overseas).

Becoming a member of the City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network provides a framework for developing the council’s future approach to supporting refugees and asylum seekers, with a strong focus on engaging people with lived experience so that they can play an important role in creating a fairer Oxfordshire for all.

There are a number of local charities that also provide support for refugees in Oxfordshire:

  • Asylum Welcome helps asylum seekers, refugees and detainees in Oxfordshire (including unaccompanied children) with English lessons, food, hardship payments, advice on housing, jobs, and the asylum system and more.
  • Refugee Resource promotes the wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Oxford City of Sanctuary is part of the wider City of Sanctuary Local Authority Network, which seeks to provide support, dignity and welcome to refugees and those seeking sanctuary.
  • Connection Support provide a range of emotional and practical support to help the families settle into everyday life

Click Sign up to hear from us and receive the latest news and updates in our fortnightly newsletter, Your Oxfordshire.