AS the world faces its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, a school in Farnworth has been recognised as a place of sanctuary for those fleeing war and persecution in their homelands.
St Gregory’s RC Primary School has become the first School of Sanctuary in Bolton for the work it does to ensure all pupils are made to feel safe — and to raise awareness of the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.
An afternoon of celebration was held to mark the school’s new status with members of the community enjoying an afternoon of song and dance from around the world.
Headteacher Kelly Watson said: “When anyone comes in to school they always say what a welcoming place.
“We were doing so much and this award acknowledges what was going on at school.
“Some of the children, who are seeking asylum or are refugees, are quite reserved, sometimes they don’t talk for a long period of time, for some it might be up to 12 months.
“They might not speak, but through the welcome they receive, the smiles on their faces show they are settling in and know we are keeping them safe.”
Shaheda Mangerah, chair of City of Sanctuary, Bolton, said: “A School of Sanctuary is committed to being safe and welcoming place for all especially those seeking sanctuary, these could be people whose life was in danger in their own countries or have troubles at home or just looking for a place of safety .
“I would like to thank everyone who has worked hard to make this happen.”
She added that by raising awareness among children would lead to a change.
“I think in the future they will be more welcoming and have more awareness of people coming into the country and why they are seeking sanctuary
“Today there is a massive crisis of refugees in the world and I think we need to show that we are welcoming.
“With my work as an asylum case worker people tell me if there was not a problem in my country and did not face persecution or war ‘I wouldn’t be here,” she said.