Stories of Sanctuary is a participatory community storytelling project to enable people living in the city of Durham to share their stories of seeking sanctuary in the North East of England. It stems from the idea that sanctuary is an ancient concept that dates back even before the arrival of the first dwellers in the city of Durham in 995AD, who were a community of monks, carrying an Irish saint – Saint Cuthbert – who became exiled from their home on the Island of Lindisfarne by the Vikings in the 9th century. The project weaves together stories from the past with modern day stories of finding sanctuary from war and conflict, to tell a different narrative about what it means to be living in the North East of England today.

The project, funded by The Arts Council, launched with a series of storytelling workshops with partner organisation Durham City of Sanctuary in June – July 2018 in the city of Durham. The creative output from the workshops including photography, stories, poems and other pieces of creative writing has inspired a folk album of songs woven with narrative, curated by singer-songwriter Sam Slatcher and viola player Raghad Haddad from the National Syrian Orchestra, who is herself a refugee from Syria. The album was launched at Durham Cathedral on the 19th October 2019. (more…)


Sam Slatcher

Sam Slatcher is a musician, singer-songwriter and community arts facilitator. Sam is passionate about engaging different communities in the process of storytelling through songwriting. (more…)

Raghad Haddad

Raghad Haddad studied viola at the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus, graduating with an excellence degree in 2005. She later became a viola teacher there. She remained based in Syria, living in a town about 80 km from Damascus until June 2016. (more…)

Simone Rudolphi

Simone has become a Documentary and Event Photographer in the Northeast of the United Kingdom.  She has worked as Modern Languages Teacher, Interpreter/Translator (German/English with legal specialism) before dedicating herself full time to a wider range of photography.   (more…)



Click on the markers to find out more about individual stories of sanctuary.



*The Stories of Sanctuary performance will be coming to more venues in the North East in Spring 2019. Please subscribe to keep in touch and check back for more updates.*


Past events

11 November 2018 – St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate

19th October 2018 – Durham Cathedral Chapter House – SOLD OUT

Stories of Sanctuary performance piece, Durham Cathedral