The first and original “Shop of Sanctuary” was the Oxfam shop in Castle Street, Swansea.
Oxfam Castle Street Shop Manager Philip Broadhust shares what becoming a Shop of Sanctuary has meant to his community:
Asylum Seekers and Refugees have made up a substantial part of the shop team at Oxfam in Castle Street, Swansea since around 2004, when we built up links with Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group, a group set up by local people to help provide a welcome to new asylum seekers coming to Swansea. With asylum seekers unable to work, it suited both them and us to develop a connection which has since provided Oxfam with a steady stream of volunteers. Asylum Seekers welcome the opportunity to do something worthwhile with their time, to improve their English, to make new friends, to learn new skills and to get a UK-based work placement on their CV. Our shop team welcomes the opportunity to fill the rota! And to make new friendships with people from all around the world.
The fact that we are known as a Shop of Sanctuary with a diverse volunteer team has definitely helped us recruit and maintain more volunteers, obviously from the asylum-seeking community, but also from across the city’s population. It has also helped us make a wide range of connections with groups and individuals across Swansea, winning us much goodwill and subsequent donations!
When Swansea City of Sanctuary began their system of Sanctuary Awards in 2014, we immediately applied for Shop Of Sanctuary status, which we gained, and then renewed in 2017. We had long been operating in a “Shop of Sanctuary” way, but it was nice to get official status, and to use the award presentations as a way of highlighting how our shop is putting Oxfam’s principles into practice at shop floor level, and to celebrate the strength and values of our Shop Team.