City of Sanctuary

‘Searching for a City of Sanctuary’

27th June 2013 St John the Baptist Church Newcastle

Working with organisations across the City of Newcastle including Cyrenians Homeless Charity, West End Refugee Services and Freedom From Torture, plus a number of theatre practitioners and filmmakers and artists and students from the Social Work and Arts & Social Science Faculties of Northumbria University.

A ‘place of sanctuary’ was created in the centre of the city – a place filled with art and music and stories and food and beautiful objects. It was comfortable place where people felt safe to reflect on the world and find peace.

 The performance is inspired by the writing of late North East-based poet Julia Darling

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‘I’m not really a political person. I just like imagining  things. Imagine you could build a utopia, a free town, a place of imagination.’  

Julia Darling NE poet (1956 -2005)

And by the hundreds of people who have experienced homelessness within the North East.

‘If I won 5 million on the lottery I would like to give  something back to the city.  An ‘Academy of  Inspiration’ at the old Westmoreland Men’s Hostel. When I look at the building now I think it looks like a  person whose life is ebbing away”

Drew Foster Cyrenians Service User


‘Searching for a City of Sanctuary’ was about hope, determination and a need to celebrate all the people of the city. We asked 100 vulnerable and marginalised people about their vision of the city – they presented us with an inspiring and imaginative manifesto for a new way to live in the city. Together, with a collection of artists and people from the Social Care sector, they  worked together to develop a theatrical performance consisting of a diverse collection of small narratives – voices from the margins – probing the stratified meanings of homelessness, exclusion and disillusionment.

Photo Credits – Maria Ferrie/Magali Pettier

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