The art of sanctuary

29 June 2023

Written by: Lambeth Council

News and announcements

Lambeth Council supports seven Lambeth schools’ journey to accreditation as Schools of Sanctuary with an arts project for World Refugee Week.

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The art of sanctuary

As part of World Refugee Week, Lambeth school students worked with arts co-ordinators Community Art Box to illustrate “compassion” – the Week’s message.


The young artists were inspired by asylum seekers’ poems about journeying through conflict, displacement and arrival, and by the words of two refugee ambassadors.

First-person stories

“More people died in Tigray than would fill Wembley Stadium six times over, but it’s the unknown war. Even pacifists were forced to fight. It was like Call of Duty but you only get one life. You can’t escape – but I did.”

“In Sudan, there was no freedom to speak, so I fled two years ago. Now war has broken out again, it’s not safe to go back. The buildings aren’t safe, the water supply is gone, I lost contact with my family even by Internet. You leave your friends, your favourite things, your memories behind.”

“Compassion includes putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. If London wasn’t safe, where would you go? Who would you take? What would you put in  your suitcase.”

Driving the message home

sanctuary schools art project

poems for the message of World Refugee Week

The students created banners with images of flight versus fear, peace after trauma – a door with words of pain shut outside; the Earth with “compassion” crossing oceans; and – with the help of children who found a place of sanctuary in Lambeth – banners reading ‘welcome’, ‘hope’ and ‘peace’ in world languages, framed by hearts and helping hands. Later, the whole school will talk about the issues in follow-up sessions.

Schools of Sanctuary

Seven Lambeth Schools aim to become accredited Schools of sanctuary this year – earning a Sanctuary Award for good practice in fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion. They must demonstrate three key principles:

  • Foster a culture of welcome and safety for people seeking sanctuary, including asylum seeking and refugee families.
  • Educate the whole school community about the human right to sanctuary and identify practical means for schools to
    message of peace

    messages of peace, hope & welcome for sanctuary seekers

    demonstrate that commitment.

  • Build empathy and intercultural awareness. Promote the voices and contributions of people seeking sanctuary, encourage an understanding of the experiences of displaced people, and help combat stereotypes.

More information