Chester Cathedral Granted Cathedral of Sanctuary

16th October 2023

Chester Cathedral has been recognised as a Cathedral Of Sanctuary – one of only four cathedrals in the UK and joins Derby Cathedral as only the second in England.

Chester Cathedral granted Cathedral of Sanctuary

The award was presented earlier this month and follows a rigorous application where the cathedral was asked to reflect on three verbs: Learn, Embed and Share in relation to its work with refugees and asylum seekers.

In Chester, there is an organisation which offers language classes and support and the cathedral offers strategic support by chairing the strategic meeting of organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers. It has supported the Borough to become a Borough of Sanctuary. It offers practical support, for example, it has offered bicycles, sewing machines and ongoing reading support in schools in response to local needs, and it offers space for exhibitions and displays.

And, earlier this year, the cathedral appointed one of its volunteers, Dennis Thomas as its Ambassador for Refugees and Asylum Seekers which means he is looking at opportunities for the cathedral to link with refugees and asylum seekers and he attends the city of sanctuary meetings.

Dennis has been a volunteer at Chester Cathedral for over twelve years, most of that being as a volunteer Verger.

He said:

“I have always tried to support everyone, in whatever I’ve done, whether with family, at work, playing rugby, supporting my Rugby Club, or at leisure.  

“This support has been particularly used during the last twelve months negotiating with the Home Office and other local and national Government Agencies to enable a Ukrainian family to come and stay with me.”

Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean of Chester said:

‘Both Dennis and I are delighted with the Cathedral of Sanctuary Award which recognises the work by our volunteers and members of our congregation. 

“We realise that this is part of the journey and there is still much more to do and we look forward to future challenges.’