On a national day of action the orange heart, a symbol of “a more compassionate approach to refugees”, was displayed at landmarks across the UK including Penshaw Monument which was lit up as Sunderland City Council gave its backing.
Friends of the Drop in Sunderland and Sunderland City of Sanctuary hosted Show Your Heart for Refugees at Sunderland Minster, with dozens of people including Steve Newman from Amnesty International and refugees themselves, showing support and telling their stories.
Organisers are concerned by the Nationality and Borders Bill, which they say “criminalises” refugees who arrive in the UK without prior authorisation.
13 pictures as Sunderland fans celebrate promotion in the city centre
13 fantastic pictures from the STACK at Seaburn as Sunderland clinch play-off final win
'Everyone loved him' - Family pay tribute after funeral of motorcycle crash victim Anthony 'Buster' Kirtley
13 of your fan pictures ahead of Sunderland's League One play-off final at Wembley
Tributes paid to ‘massive’ Sunderland fan Tony Staplin after tragic death in County Durham crash
The group wants to scrap a proposal in the bill which they say would punish refugees because of how they arrive here, regardless of what they are fleeing from.
It also wants the UK to resettle 10,000 of the refugees most at risk each year.
The day of action was in support of Together With Refugees, a coalition of more than 400 organisations demanding compassion for refugees fleeing war and persecution.
These include Asylum Matters , the British Red Cross and Freedom from Torture.
The event was held amid claims that Vladimir Putin is trying to starve 300,000 people in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol into surrender.
Reverend Chris Howson, from Sunderland City of Sanctuary, said: “Those fleeing war and persecution are facing a desperate situation.
"It is hugely important that the UK government amends its proposed Nationality and Borders Bill so that it doesn’t make their plight even worse
than it already is.
“Here in Sunderland, many people have already been in touch to offer support for those fleeing the current war in Ukraine, and we need to stand in solidarity with those who have lost their homes, their jobs, their security.”
Jennifer Laws, campaign manager for Asylum Matters, said: “We’re calling on the Government to make sure we provide protection, rather than punishment for refugees.”
The Home Office said the “vast majority” of voters support its bill, which was introduced to the House of Commons in July 2021, but is yet to be voted on.