How do refugees and asylum-seekers experience Huddersfield as a ‘town of sanctuary’?


This research aims to understand the experience of asylum-seekers and refugees (ASRs) within the juxtapositional climate of welcome, as promoted by the City of Sanctuary (CoS) movement, and deterrence, as per asylum policies, within a dispersal area that has signed up to support the CoS aims. The literature review highlights that ASRs face many challenges to establishing themselves in their new communities; many of which are institutionalised under the dispersal policy as they are often dispersed to areas of social deprivation. Aside from enabling relationship development between ASRs and local people through sanctuary practices, the literature offers little about the practical ways that CoS benefits ASRs and there is no consensus that the movement mitigates the challenges they face. The research used a phenomenological strategy as it aimed to build a clear picture of how things exist from the perspectives of the participants. It adopted an interpretivist paradigm using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Data was collected from three participants using semi-structured interviews. The participants identified as ASRs in line with policy definitions and were aged between 23 and 42 years. The research revealed that despite the adverse effects associated with dispersal, it is not always perceived negatively by ASRs and suggests that ASRs have some level of confidence in the Home Office’s dispersal decision. Liminality emerged as one aspect of the asylum process that adversely impacts both the present and future prospect of ASRs’ ability to settle into their community and plan for their future. It has also revealed that the participants' ideal of sanctuary, is more than the notion of safety. It includes being understood and the perceived feeling that they can trust those around them; an ideal of sanctuary contrary to the feeling that the asylum system produces.


Sanctuary Kirklees, Huddersfield, Sanctuary, City of Sanctuary, Liminality, Dispersal, Refugees, Asylum-seekers

How to Cite

Jackson, M., (2020) “How do refugees and asylum-seekers experience Huddersfield as a ‘town of sanctuary’?”, Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research 6(1). doi:


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Melisa Jackson (University of Huddersfield)





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