Walkers step out for fifth annual Walk for Sanctuary to mark start of Refugee Week

Reverend Chris Howson and Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk
Reverend Chris Howson and Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk

Members of Sunderland City of Sanctuary stepped out in glorious sunshine for their fifth annual Walk for Sanctuary to mark the start of Refugee Week.

The 18-strong group of walkers took advantage of the warm weather to trek from Sunderland to North Shields to raise awareness of the plight of those fleeing conflict and oppression.

Participants during the Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk

Participants during the Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk

Setting off from Sunderland Minster at 10am, the walkers headed along the coast, reaching Christ Church in North Shields shortly after 4pm.

Stopping for lunch at Souter Lighthouse, they took in the sands of South Shields, symbolising the arduous journeys of refugees through the Sahara Desert.

The group then crossed the River Tyne on the Shields Ferry, in a symbolic tribute to those fleeing across the Mediterranean.

City of Sanctuary chairman, Rev Chris Howson, said: “We have been doing this every year for the last five years now.

On this walk, we remember the long hard journey to reach these shores, and we think about the problems sanctuary seekers have to come even after they have made such a journey

Rev Chris Howson

“We couldn’t have expected this incredible weather.

“Sunderland only hosts a small number of refugees, but we are immensely proud of the warm welcome that local people give to those who have come here fleeing war and terror.

“On this walk, we remember the long hard journey to reach these shores, and we think about the problems sanctuary seekers have to come even after they have made such a journey.

“This event is the first of many this week organised by the Friends of the Drop In, City of Sanctuary, Fightback, Action Foundation and all the wonderful folk of this city who stand in solidarity with refugees.”

Reverend Chris Howson and Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk

Reverend Chris Howson and Sunderland City of Sanctuary awareness walk

A large number of events will be taking place in Sunderland this refugee week.

Today will see a volunteering day, held in Roker Park from 10am until 3pm. Between 1pm and 3pm, people are invited to have tea with a refugee at the City of Sanctuary offices. There will also be a display of the journeys of asylum seekers.

On Wednesday, from 3pm until 6pm, Refugees Got Talent will be held at drop-in St Mary’s, on Bridge Street.

And on Thursday, Tea with a Refugee will be at the Gentoo office in Athenaeum Street, from 2pm until 4pm.

On Friday at 5pm, there will be a screening of the film Grow Your Own at the Media Centre, St Peter’s Campus, University of Sunderland.

Later that evening, from 8pm to 10pm, the Sanctuary Dance Night will be held at The Independent, Holmeside. It is also a free swim day at the Aquatic Centre.

For more information, visit refugeeweek.org.uk