Making Wales a Welcoming and Prosperous Nation: Influencing the National Assembly for Wales Elections 2016. Read the Manifesto below 

Seven Steps to Sanctuary: Welsh Refugee Coalition Manifesto

The Welsh Refugee Coalition Manifesto has been drawn up by over twenty organisations who have agreed the top priority political actions that the Welsh Government needs to commit to and deliver to create a Nation of Sanctuary. The manifesto is an extension of the briefing produced for the Sanctuary in the Senedd event in December 2015, where representatives from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Conservatives were questioned on their response to the actions outlined in the briefing.

It was clear from conversations with representatives at the hustings that the lobbying at the Sanctuary in the Senedd event and through other meetings with the party representatives the coalition had an impact on policy development. For example, the Welsh Conservatives had made negative comments during the December event but the party had actually now made positive commitments to Wales becoming a Nation of Sanctuary. 

The Seven Steps to a Nation of Sanctuary are:

  1. A WELCOMING WALES Sustaining Wales’ commitment to welcome refugees & supporting Wales to become the world’s first Nation of Sanctuary.
  2. DEVELOP A NATIONAL MIGRATION STRATEGY Developing high national standards for the integration of people resettled in Wales, recognising and seizing the opportunities presented by migration to Wales and responding effectively to challenges.
  3. POSITIVELY INFLUENCE AND ENGAGE THE UK GOVERNMENT’S MIGRATION LEGISLATION Create effective and pre-emptive strategies for managing the impact of new immigration legislation to mitigate risks to the human rights and safety of migrants in Wales.
  4. DEVOLVED ASYLUM SUPPORT Pushing for a devolved asylum support system, including asylum accommodation and dispersal in Wales.
  5. END DESTITUTION IN WALES Preventing destitution amongst asylum-seekers and refugees.
  6. FUND SPECIALIST ADVICE, ADVOCACY AND SUPPORT SERVICES Protecting the delivery of vital services for asylum-seeking and refugee children, young people and adults.
  7. INCLUSION OF ASYLUM-SEEKERS AND REFUGEES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF POLICIES THAT AFFECT THEM Promoting the active participation of asylum-seekers and refugees in the policies that affect them.

National Hustings: Thursday 14th April 2016

TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru / Together Creating Communities), Oxfam, HOPE not hate and the Welsh Refugee Council worked in partnership to deliver a National husting to question the Welsh political parties on their commitments to migration, and poverty. The Welsh political parties were represented by the following people:

  • Welsh Conservatives, Mark Isherwood
  • Wales Green Party, Duncan Rees
  • Welsh Labour, Ken Skates
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats, Aled Robets
  • Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, Mabon ap Gwynfor.

Representatives from UKIP were contacted but no response was received.

The event was tightly co-chaired by local headteacher Ron Keating, the chair of the Syrian Association of Wales Ferass Nadde, and local minister Tracey Day, with time management by Noemi Santos, a local college student. There were five pre-arranged questions to begin the event with two focusing on priorities from the Welsh Refugee Coalition manifesto.

Over one hundred people attended the event including nine refugees and asylum seekers from Cardiff and Wrexham.

All the parties represented began the hustings with a clear commitment to work together to create a welcoming and tolerant nation, to challenge hate.

Specialist support services and a migration strategy:

Sara Roberts, a local activist who has just returned from a trip to give donations and support to people living in Calais and Dunkirk spoke about the urgent need to provide asylum seekers specialist support to be safe and well when they arrive in Wales. She then asked if the Welsh political parties would commit to a migration strategy that includes the provision of specialist support services.

The representatives from political parties all gave a vague commitment to supporting asylum seekers and refugees. There was no commitment to a broader migration strategy that would include outcomes for the employment, education, health, safety and wellbeing of all people arriving in Wales. There was a lack of understanding from representatives on the opportunities for Wales to take a creative and ambitious approach to migration. There was an understanding from representatives on the importance of supporting refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into Welsh society.

  • “we have people fleeing war and persecution in Iraq and Syria, they are not here for a laugh, but want safety and sanctuary for their children to grow up with hope.” Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales.
  • “proud history in Wales to provide a safe sanctuary, we back calls for Wales to be the first Nation of Sanctuary and will use all devolved levers to support integration.” Mark Isherwood, Welsh Conservatives.
  • “Labour has already proved its commitment to refugees and asylum seekers through the new refugee inclusion action plan” Ken Skates, Welsh Labour.
  • “We support Wales as a nation of Sanctuary, and want to find out what support there is to Local Authorities.” Aled Robets, Welsh Liberal Democrats.


NS a refugee from Syria attended the event, he gave a short testimony from his time living in Cardiff with no home, no money, no food and no support. He then asked a direct question about the Welsh political parties’ commitment to a destitution fund. The five political parties all positively committed to a destitution fund:

  • “Labour have decided today that we will commit to an 8 million discretionary destitution fund, including refused asylum seekers.” Ken Skates, Welsh Labour.
  • “Liberal Democrats commit to a discretionary destitution fund” Aled Robets, Welsh Liberal Democrats.
  • “Plaid commits to a destitution fund like in Northern Ireland.” Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales.
  • “Greens support a destitution fund, and not to treat asylum seekers as criminals from the asylum system.” Duncan Rees, Green Party of Wales
  • “Conservatives commit to a nation of Sanctuary including the principle of a Nation of Sanctuary. Yes to commit to a destitution fund. Prioritise and simplify funding through communities.” Mark Isherwood, Welsh Conservatives.

Active participation of refugees:

The Welsh Refugee Council facilitated the active participation of ten asylum seekers and refugees. A minibus of people were collected and driven from Cardiff to participate in the event, this included seven asylum seekers and refugees from Syria, the Gambia and Sudan. We talked to participants at the Just Across, Wrexham drop-in centre and one refugee from Wrexham attended the event.

Refugee and asylum seekers who attended felt that they were able to raise their concerns with politicians in Wales and were heard. This was a good opportunity for refugee and asylum seekers to put forward their experiences and ask the Welsh government to commit to specific solutions. NS, a refugee from Syria gave a short testimony on his experience of destitution in Wales and asked the politicians for their commitment to a destitution fund. Ferass, as co-chair then put all the representatives on the spot demanding a clear yes or a no answer.

“The politicians were concerned with the issue [of destitution] and said that they would fix the issue, through a destitution fund. It made me feel like I am a human, and I have a concern from other people, and that I meet the British people and give my opinion and that I am an equal in Wales. I feel myself as I am in my country – people are asking my opinion, I can complain and talk and it is very important to me because I am a new arrival, this is a new country, and they accept my opinion. To speak to the government directly, it is not possible in other countries. In Syria I could not talk to government directly, it is very difficult, they ignore me so I ignore them. Here you can speak directly to them, they are very comfortable, you speak to them as a friend as a normal person, you speak to them on the same layer [level].” (NS, refugee from Syria)


Influencing the manifesto’s:

It is clear that the work of the Welsh Refugee Coalition has had some influence on the manifestos of five of the political parties in Wales. This gives a strong base to ensure that the rights of refugees and asylum seekers are recognised within the next programme of government for the National Assembly for Wales.


  • “In recognising our international obligations to others we will ensure Wales plays a determined part in improving the lives of people in war-torn places and disaster zones.”


  • “We will use devolved levers to support, and aid the integration of, asylum seekers and refugees seeking sanctuary.”


  • “We will meet regularly with the Migration Advisory Committee to explain Welsh migration needs, and will push for powers to determine immigrant sponsors in Wales.”
  • “We will seek the devolution of migration policy so that Wales can set its own migration quota according to its own needs.”
  • “We will seek to make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary for those fleeing war or persecution with a basic level of support provided to help refugees and asylum seekers integrate into Welsh society.”

Liberal Democrats

  • “We will engage with the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.”
  • “We will improve integration of refugees, through continued support for ESOL provision or Welsh lessons, and encouraging schools with large numbers of children speaking English as a second language to host English lessons for parents.”
  • “We will Support schools in tackling discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers.”
  • “We will provide non-monetary short-term support for refugees and asylum seekers who are left destitute in Wales as a result of systematic delays out of their control.”
  • “We will support voluntary organisations to provide support for refugees, including submission of family reunion applications.”


  • “We will work with local authorities to house refugees, provide support services for those in need, and ensure they are welcomed into our countries.”


PDF icon Welsh Refugee Coalition Manifesto - Welsh 2.12 MB
PDF icon Welsh Refugee Coalition Manifesto - English 2.16 MB

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