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The Sanctuary Summer School: A week of fun and activities!

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Asylum Seekers in BirminghamLast week, the Sanctuary held its yearly Summer school. The school provides an opportunity for our students and volunteers to come together, have some fun and try something new outside of our normal timetable. It was a week of varied, creative and some unusual activities. Monday hosted poetry and craft workshops in which the students were able to express themselves and create beautiful glass artwork. Games for beginners took place on Wednesday and on Friday our students enjoyed Jam making and guitar lessons. Whenever the activities were not taking place, there were games and refreshments available so people could sit, relax and bond. 
 
Tuesday and Thursday were a little different. On Tuesday, we all jumped on a coach and headed over to the National trust site Hanbury Hall. As we drove out of the city and into the Countryside our students were so happy to see animals and lots of greenery, reminding many of their homes. We were welcomed by the volunteers at Hanbury Hall and enjoyed a musical picnic as our Jesuit friends played instruments and sang to entertain us all on what turned out to be a beautiful summer’s day. We spent the day exploring the gardens and the hall before travelling back into the city to finish off the week!
 
Thursday was our big day! We all celebrated the end of the ESOL year and awarded the students their certificates during the annual summer BBQ. We prayed for good weather, and clearly fortune was on our side as the glorious sun shone throughout the entire day! The day was held at the Archbishop’s beautiful and colourful garden, which was filled with our 

students, regular visitors, benefactors and friends. We were lucky enough to be joined by some young people from NCS The Challenge. The young
 people entertained everyone with their drumming and singing and even started an impromptu and highly competitive game of football with our students. Alongside the wonderful sunshine and games, we feasted on BBQ food until the presentation ceremony began. Each student was awarded their certificate and the ceremony closed with one of our students asking to say a few words. He pulled out a carefully folded piece of paper and began to share his dreams of being able to read and write in English. Here he was in front of everyone, reading a speech exclaiming how grateful he was for all the help he’d had; help which allowed this very poignant moment to happen. Never had we heard such an applause and we ended the day with warm hearts and happy faces, already looking forward to next year’s BBQ. 
Each year both volunteers and students say the Summer School is a great way to be able to spend some time with each other and get away from the usual busy week at The Sanctuary. This year we felt this was so true and so important, that we have decided to incorporate some aspects into our new and revised timetable (to be released soon) to ensure we keep the feel good factor all year round. 
 
To everyone that was involved in any way in the Summer School, thank you for making it such a fantastic week and anyone who was unable to come, there’s no excuse for next year!
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