Sanctuary and Culture Network
The Sanctuary and Culture network brings together arts and voluntary sector organisations and individuals across the North East for exploratory conversations focusing on learning, listening and understanding alongside bespoke training offered by a range of experts across the arts and refugee sector.
'A Little Help' Food Bank, Transition Phase
During the time of COVID-19, from March 2020, D6 made a number of donations and volunteered time to a temporary volunteer run food bank serving individuals and families seeking asylum in Newcastle and Gateshead and led by Md Hamid (former D6 volunteer, Law Student and Activist) in response to COVID-19. We secured emergency funding from Paul Hamlyn Foundation to extend this initiative and provide a monthly service between August-December 2020 to clients with no recourse to public funds.
With the support of 118 volunteer hours and in collaboration with Curious Monkey Theatre, we shopped, packed and delivered food and sanitary parcels to 121 individuals and 89 families, with an additional donation of new winter clothing purchased for the West End Refugee Service to distribute. The food bank revealed challenges relating to the hostility and complexity of the immigration system, access to food bank provision and safeguarding in the context of the pandemic.
Across summer 2021, D6 invited individuals working across the North East cultural sector to participate in a bespoke training programme focussed on asylum law, support and creating environments of care.
Co-designed and facilitated by the West End Refugee Service, the training programme helped participants build their knowledge and understanding of the constructs and day to day realities of the UK’s immigration system. It provided space for a shared and deep consideration of practice, process and behaviours in the cultural sector that uphold systems of oppression and inequalities, and aspired to instigate change.
The sessions included Busting Myths around Asylum, Understanding Asylum Law and Reform, Understanding Asylum Support, and Creating environments of care through deep listening, empathy and understanding where the boundaries lie. This training is an ongoing area of work across the Sanctuary and Culture programme.
As part of our renovations and with the generous support of volunteers and donations of equipment and money, we built a new studio, but we also created a kitchen. A warm and welcoming space to share food and company, a space to co host friends and strangers, a space to cook together, to eat together, a space to get to know each other.
In this space we now regularly invite artists, volunteers and partners to fuse culinary traditions, and experiment with ingredients as we aim for zero waste and locally sourced produce. Here we recalibrate our connection to each other, taking time from our desks and studio practice to put the world to rights.