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Stories of Sanctuary

North East


Stories of Sanctuary is a community songwriting project bringing together Syrian refugees and local residents of Durham through creating and performing original songs. Reflecting on Durham's rich history of sanctuary, from St Cuthbert through to Durham's annual celebration of its mining communities, the songs weave together the past with recent stories of seeking sanctuary from war in Syria and settling into life in the North East.

The project is curated by Durham folk singer-songwriter Sam Slatcher and the songs were written collaboratively in a series of summer workshops that took place in the summer of 2018 in Durham. The songs feature on a professionally recorded album produced by Ron Angus at Studio One, Co. Durham and feature participants from the project, as well as Raghad Haddad, viola player from the National Syrian Orchestra and multi-instrumentalist Paul Martin.

On 19th October, Stories of Sanctuary was launched at Durham Cathedral’s Chapter House to a sold-out audience of 170. The choir of 18 also appeared in the Houses of Parliament at the Sanctuary in Parliament day on 12th November, partnered with City of Sanctuary, a grassroots movement bringing communities together to create welcoming cities for asylum seekers and refugees. The 2 hour show of songs, poems and dance will appear at venues and festivals across the UK in 2019.