Multi-Faith and Belief Chaplaincy, For All Faiths and None

Sanctuary Walk for Refugees

Refugees in Scotland are in need of assistance in higher education. The University of Edinburgh Chaplaincy organised a sponsored walk on the 3rd and 4th of June 2017 to raise initial funds to offer educational opportunities. The Chaplaincy invited staff, students and the larger Edinburgh community to participate.

Photograph of a group of people walking along a path, past trees in the sunshine.

Well done to everyone who joined us on our Sanctuary Walk for Refugees!

So far we have raised over £8,600 and there will be a matching by the Scholarships Office at the University of Edinburgh which secures a student scholarship for a refugee hopefully for this coming semester.  The Sanctuary Walk for Refugees JustGiving page is still live and if you wish to contribute.  Photos from the Walk can be seen on the Facebook page for the Sanctuary Walk for Refugees.

A massive thanks to everyone who took part raising money as well as awareness, thanks to those on the planning group, and to those who walked, danced, sang, told stories, played instruments, offered poems and made speeches as well as to all those who sponsored us!

We found it so important that we had Syrians walking with us, with their own personal stories of struggle and what it meant to have to leave home and settle in a new country and it was very moving on Sunday morning as a group of people from different faiths and none, to begin our walk in silence at 7.15am, walking for peace and remembering those caught in the London Bridge attack.

We are delighted that the University of Edinburgh is now the first university in Scotland to become a University of Sanctuary for its work to support and educate refugees.  Vice Principal Professor James Smith received the certificate at the end of our Sanctuary Walk for Refugees at the Scottish Parliament from Rachel Farrier of Edinburgh City of Sanctuary.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Sanctuary Walk for Refugees overview image

Sanctuary Walk for Refugees Report

Photograph of participants gathered at the Forth

As a way of heightening awareness about the importance of Edinburgh University offering  sanctuary and welcome to refugees, the Chaplaincy organised, in partnership with many bodies within and without the University, a  sponsored ‘Sanctuary Walk for Refugees'.  This was held on 3rd and 4th June 2017. It was  open to staff, students and the general public.

We journeyed from Edinburgh to two ancient sites of sanctuary associated with welcome – St Bridget’s Church in Fife and Inchcolm Abbey on the island in the Firth of Forth.  We returned to the Scottish Parliament for speeches. The walk remembered the journeying of refugees on foot, in vehicles and by boat, in order to reach a place of safety. At each of the places of sanctuary, we took part in ceremonies which allowed us to remember refugees in our world. We were very aware that the sunny weather made our walk along the beautiful Fife coastal paths a very different experience from that of many refugees as they make their way to safety. We danced, sang, read poems, told stories and shared shisha with our Syrian friends  at our campsite. On Sunday morning, as we woke up to the news about the tragic London Bridge attacks, it was very moving to begin our walk in silence at 7.15am, walking for peace, remembering those caught in the attacks and to do this side by side with our Syrian Muslim brothers as a group of people from different faiths and none.


Sanctuary walk for refugees on the boat on the Forth.

What gave our walk authenticity, was the presence of the six Syrian refugees with us who told us their own stories of how they reached Scotland. Some had survived torture and dangerous journeys before they finally arrived here. The goal of the walk was to provide those who would otherwise not have access to education, an opportunity to study at Edinburgh University. We exceeded our expectations by raising over £10,500 and this has been  matched by Edinburgh University’s Scholarship Office to bring in over £20,000. This makes it possible for two refugees to study here for a year fully supported and others to benefit from online education. As Syrian alumni Amer Masri said to me on the walk "This will be life changing for whoever is given a place at the University." A huge thank you goes to all the walk participants, to those who donated and to the many departments and bodies of the university who worked hard with the Chaplaincy to make the walk happen.  

Edinburgh University - a University of Sanctuary

People lying down by a beach

As a City of Sanctuary, Edinburgh takes pride in welcoming global citizens in need of safety – whether that be from war, poverty, or as a result of the recent refugee crisis. The University shares these values and is working to provide refugees in Edinburgh with a wide range of educational support.  At  the Scottish Parliament, at end of the  sponsored Sanctuary Walk for Refugees, Prof James Smith, VP International spoke about how the University is engaging with refugees and displaced peoples on many levels.  The University then received a certificate of recognition for being the first University in Scotland to become a University of Sanctuary. 

Key elements of this are awareness raising and financial support. The Just Giving page for the Sanctuary Walk for Refugees sat within the University’s Humanitarian Assistance Fund.