Join us as UNHCR teams up with Sanctuary Festival in Hastings

 © Alexander Brattell

“It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of what’s happening in Ukraine, in Afghanistan and in the Channel to name just a few of the terrible situations we read about daily.  But we can have an impact in our town and in our communities.” 

Polly Gifford, organiser of Hastings Sanctuary Festival is looking forward to welcoming the Hastings community to Sanctuary Festival 2022.  

This annual celebration is back to celebrate the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees, and those who have helped them to establish themselves and rebuild their lives.  

This year, the Festival will focus around the Refugee Week theme of healing, with a range of events to inform, entertain and create.  

Sunday 26 June is the main Sanctuary Festival, now in its sixth year, kicking off at midday and free to all. In the grounds of Hastings Museum there will be live music, creative workshops, storytellers, drumming, community stalls, fun for kids, food stalls and the chance to connect with other festival goers. 

Inside the museum there will be fascinating talks and discussions.  ‘Routes to Healing’ will explore how people heal from traumatic events like war, displacement and torture. UNHCR will be joining representatives Freedom From Torture, The Refugee Buddy Project and poet Loraine Mponela for this panel discussion.   

‘Art in Detention’ will discuss the harmful impact of detention on those seeking safety, and how art and creativity can help and support them.  The panel includes Bella Sankey from Detention Action and the Napier Barracks art project.  The final session will be an opportunity to discuss the  the UK’s announced Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda (MEDP) – strongly opposed by the UN Refugee Agency, refugee support groups, and many others across Britain. 

 Hastings has a long-standing tradition of welcoming refugees resettled in the town and surrounding areas. More recently, people have mobilized to meet asylum-seekers as they arrive at the shoreline, ensuring warm clothes, drinks and food are given to people who have risked their lives crossing the channel. 

Hastings became a City of Sanctuary in 2017, giving a boost to the already active community. Prominent in this is the Buddy Project. Established by Rossanna Leal. Herself a refugee from Chile, this was set up to help Syrian families arriving under the UK’s resettlement programme. Now named The Refugee Buddy Project: Hastings, Rother and Wealden to reflect its growing scope, the organisation was granted charitable status in 2019. 

An emergency refugee shelter will also be erected at the festival, showing the reality for many displaced around the world. Students from Ark Alexandra Academy showcasing their artwork on refugee issues, including photography and dance.  

The full programme will be posted on the Hastings Community of Sanctuary website and on the Hastings Supports Refugees Facebook page. 

Tickets for the Comedy Special, hosted the day before, are available from Eventbrite.