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Crich Junior School is Derbyshire’s first School of Sanctuary

Crich Junior School becomes Derbyshire’s first School of Sanctuary!

The school received the award by showing how it extends a warm welcome to everyone and that its children, staff and the wider community understand what it means to be seeking sanctuary.

Crich Junior School is a communityschool at the heart of Crich, near Matlock, Derbyshire. The award came about after the school made links with the DRAC (Derby Refugee Advice Centre) back in 2015, initially collecting donations of toiletries and food. From this a small group of children and teachers have come every term to the Centre to deliver donations, go round the Centre and meet people and the school has invited a group from the Centre back to the school for a morning each term – visits which have been really enjoyed by all. There has been a curriculum focus on inclusion, diversity and raising of asylum issues and raising awareness in the local community of the school’s work. Ms Cheryl Julian, head teacher, said “the school has greatly valued the commitment from DRAC, both volunteers and Centre users, to engage and encourage our work as a school. Sanctuary seekers have built relationships with children and staff and given ideas for future curriculum plans and activities. Children have expressed a desire to volunteer or work with those seeking sanctuary. This has been due to the wonderful welcome and appreciation of our efforts on the visits we have made to the Centre. We are delighted to accept this award . Our school is a school that is proud to be a place of welcome and inclusion for everyone. Getting to know visitors from the Derby Refugee Advice Centre has been a privilege for us all”.
Janet Fuller, volunteer manager of DRAC said “Visiting Crich Junior School has been the highlight of the year! We felt so welcomed by the pupils, head teacher, staff and parents. The lunch was incredible and all the activities, organised by the children, were great fun and enabled us to relax, enjoy ourselves and forget for a while some of the difficulties in our lives. Thank you and we are looking forward to seeing you at DRAC before the end of term”

The school’s application was approved by a group from the Derby City of Sanctuary network and endorsed by City of Sanctuary National Development Officer, Colleen Molloy, who wrote to the school head teacher:
“Congratulations on receiving the School of Sanctuary Award on behalf of Crich Junior School. I am very impressed with your application and in particular with the relationship building that you have been able to nurture between school pupils and asylum seekers at the Derby Refugee Advice Centre. This human connection is key to our theory of change, because once people meet and get to know asylum seekers and understand why they are here and what they are going through, it is impossible to ignore and often leads to compassion and action. This is education in its widest sense and the experiential learning you have provided for the children will last them for their lives. I’m sure that the creative and learning experiences has contributed to the continuous improvement towards excellent standards of the school.
Your school has created something very special, and contributes to our overall vision that the UK will provide welcoming places of safety for all and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution.
Thank you to you, all your staff, the children and the local community for their sterling support and active engagement with one of the key humanitarian issues of our time”.

The award was presented to the school at a special assembly attended by parents, friends from Derby City of Sanctuary and the Derby Refugee Advice Centre. The children sang two special songs and the school orchestra played for us. Maureen Priddin, presenting the award on behalf of City of Sanctuary, said “Your school should be very proud of becoming a School of Sanctuary, a safe and welcoming place for everyone …. now it’s time to go out and share this because this is the kind of world we want to live in!”

After the assembly there was a great time of celebration: the children taught us how to play the drums, we wrote and translated our names into five different languages, stroked the hens, played games and football, did knitting with ladies from the village, enjoyed the school gardens and sunshine and were treated to a wonderful buffet lunch. Thank you Crich Junior School for a great day and many congratulations on your sanctuary award!!