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A city of sanctuary and kindness

Portsmouth has been designated a City of Sanctuary, one of a series of cities across the UK who welcome refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum. Shaun Martinez, who recently moved back to Portsmouth after 25 years abroad is working with refugees and is also developing a network of venues across the city, that once trained, will be able to offer support to people at risk. Called Spaces of Sanctuary (SoS) it aims, to train people to help support our most vulnerable neighbours. The idea is quite simple, different places around the city will open their doors to anyone who needs support, offering them kindness, a cup of tea and offer help towards finding solutions to the problems people might have. Consent is central to any actions to be taken.

The scheme is unique. Portsmouth is unique.Shaun thinks the scheme works because people in this city care and are truly kind. Other schemes in the city exist, Pompey Safe Space Scheme is one. ‘We are partnering with them and applaud Harriet Evens’ commitment to making Portsmouth a city free from sexual violence and harassment. Places like Dice and Head Barbers on Albert Road have signed up, and we are looking forward to working with them to help make Portsmouth that little bit kinder. The libraries, galleries, churches, supermarkets and the university have also joined the scheme. To extend our map of kindness we really need you… Our training is free and everything you need to be a volunteer is built into the project. We also encourage our volunteers to talk about their own lives and experiences of being a good neighbour with our expert trainers. I believe this is a great project for Portsmouth. Join us.

If you are interested in the scheme or any of Portsmouth City of Sanctuary’s work contact Shaun at

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