Powys will become a ‘Council of Sanctuary’ as it is the “ethical and morally proper” thing to do.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday, July 11 councillors agreed unanimously to join the ‘City of Sanctuary’ local authority network and begin the application process to become a ‘Council of Sanctuary’.

In February 2022, the UK Government ordered that all UK local authorities should accommodate a share of refugees, under the asylum dispersal programme, and the network builds on that.

Cabinet Member for a Safer Powys Liberal Democrat Cllr Richard Church said that joining the network is “something we should welcome” and would send out an “enormous positive message from this authority.”

Cllr Church said: “The work that’s been done for refugees and asylum seekers has been going on for some years and it’s something we have done well.

"In saying that we are county of sanctuary we’re sending a message to everybody that we welcome people coming here.

"Not just because we’re told to do it by government or by anybody else – but because we believe it’s something right and ethical and morally proper for us to do."

He added that the effort of voluntary and community groups efforts in supporting asylum seekers and refugees across Powys should also be celebrated.

Cabinet Member for a Connected Powys, Liberal Democrat Cllr Jake Berriman said: “It makes me proud to be a Powys councillor.”

Deputy leader and cabinet member for fairer Powys, Labour’s Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “I’m really pleased to see this.

“This speaks to who we are and embodies our values as an outward looking, compassionate, kind and caring organisation.

“We should be proud of that.

“It will set a standard for us, and I hope will inspire others to follow our lead and council.”

So far, Swansea City Council is only Welsh local authority who has achieved council of sanctuary status.

Since 2016 the council has been supporting refugees to resettle in the Powys and currently they help six families from Afghanistan, 15 families from Syria and 105 families from Ukraine.

By agreeing the proposal, the council will pledge to:

• Support the City of Sanctuary vision that we will be a welcoming place of safety for all, and proud to offer sanctuary to people fleeing violence, persecution, famine, or natural disaster.

• Endorse the charter and agree to act in accordance with City of Sanctuary values and apply the network principles within their work.

• Sanctuary seekers are welcomed, included, and supported and support local City of Sanctuary groups.

• Challenge anti-refugee and anti-migrant attitudes wherever they are found.

• Add the council’s name to a list of supporters of City of Sanctuary and contribute ideas for how they can turn this support into practical action.

Membership of the local authority network is free, however accreditation costs £1,500 for three years.