19th December 2021
SWINDON CITY OF SANCTUARY delighted to announce the appearance of hundreds of messages of welcome on a billboard in Old Town!
Hope Messages from Swindon City of Sanctuary
In collaboration with Create Studios and with the support of Richard James estate agents, Swindon City of Sanctuary is sharing messages of welcome and support. Written on orange hearts, the messages are to all people who come to live here in Swindon. In particular those who’ve fled danger and are seeking safety here with everyone in the town.
You can see the messages within a huge orange heart shape on the billboard in Old Town’s Newport Street. The billboard says: ‘The People of Swindon Say WELCOME!’ (And a message to join in).
The messages were all written during Swindon City of Sanctuary’s Show Your Heart Month of Welcome in November. They show the true spirit of welcome and kindness in the hearts of the people of Swindon.
The message givers
School children and staff, local businesses, community organisations and faith groups wrote the messages. During one week in November, Swindon City of Sanctuary invited Swindonians to send in selfies of themselves, holding up welcome messages. There was also a special day of welcome in Old Town’s The Tuppenny pub. People popped in throughout the day to write their messages.
Create Studios and photographer Elmar Rubio, captured hundreds of images. These images came together via Create’s marketing team for display in a large heart shape on a billboard.
(*All involved donated their time free of charge.)
Nicola Wood, Charity Manager, Swindon City of Sanctuary, said:
‘Our Swindon messages of welcome on orange hearts show our support to people forced to flee their homes.
We want people to be able to seek safety in our country, no matter how they’ve arrived here. We want people to live in dignity and safety here while they wait. While they wait for the decision granting them protection and giving them Leave to Remain here in the UK. We welcome people into our town. We want to show them that they belong here so they can begin re-building their lives in safety and become involved in their new community. If any one of us feared for our lives or the lives of our loved ones, we’d want to know that others would help us to safety, wouldn’t we? This is our chance to show our messages of welcome and support for everyone. No matter what we look like nor where we come from.’
Shahina Johnson MBE, CEO and Artistic Director, Create Studios, said:
‘It was great to work with our partners and friends at Swindon City of Sanctuary / Schools of Sanctuary to make this incredible image reflecting love and support for refugees arriving in Swindon. The Create Studios team worked with over 600 people of all ages and backgrounds across Swindon to make the composite image of the big heart at the centre of the Show your Heart campaign. We’re so proud to be part of a town where that message is loud and clear. And it’s great that creativity and partnership has been at the heart of making this project a reality.’
Why the orange heart?
The orange heart represents compassion for people fleeing war, persecution or violence. Inspired by the Refugee Nation flag and the colours of a lifebelt, the heart symbolises hope and kindness. It’s also a symbol of the Show Your Heart campaign championed by Together with Refugees. That coalition of members includes grassroots, community and refugee-led groups. Also international development charities, trade unions and faith groups. Swindon City of Sanctuary are proud to be members of such bodies.
Ben Jackson, Chair of Trustees, Swindon City of Sanctuary, said, ‘Although our work is not exactly the same as all groups and organisations in the Together with Refugees coalition, one thing we all share is a belief inf showing compassion for people fleeing war and persecution. And in working for a kinder, fairer and more effective approach to supporting refugees in the UK.’
Join in and show your own ‘Orange Hearts’ with messages of welcome by tagging Swindon City of Sanctuary on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram including hashtags: