On 19th December, Stories of Sanctuary raised an incredible £1489 through an ‘auction of promises’ evening in the City of Durham, with all the fund raised going towards the Crowdfund Campaign. (Topping up the £4000 or so out of £5000 target we have currently raised, as of 21st December!)

(Credit: Sophie Nimmins)

The promises auctioned last night at North Road Methodist Church over a tasty Syrian cuisine included unique offerings from local residents, including a tour of the House of Lords by the Bishop of Durham, a commissioned poem by Syrian poet and songwriter Hasna Al Hassoun, as well as Arabic language lessons, cooking workshops, and cultural tours of the North East. Over 60 people turned up and £1075 were directly raised in the auction.

All the funds from the auction go towards the Crowdfund Campaign the group launched on the 7th December, to raise £5000 to bring the project to 5 new cities. Each tour will allow the young people in the group to develop their leadership skills as well as engaging new audiences in the powerful stories of fleeing war and the need to create safe spaces for those seeking sanctuary from war.

One of the choir members – Hasna, originally from Homs in Syria – had prepared a poem as a thank you for the support of the wider community. She exclaimed “I am not a stranger anymore, Durham gave me my home”.

Auctioneer and project member Pippa Bell was overwhelmed by the response: “I am so thrilled that we had so many unique experiences promised and a very generous crowd who came along to support this amazing project”

The groups’ songs have been released on a professionally recorded album curated by Durham singer-songwriter Sam Slatcher, and featuring Raghad Haddad – highly acclaimed viola player from the National Syrian Orchestra.

Slatcher, who coordinates the group, says “the aim of the show is not only to humanise refugees and celebrate their creativity, but also to show the power of music in creating new communities built on respect and friendship”.

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