Webinar: Welcoming Cities: Municipal Leadership on Immigrant Integration

May 30, 2012

Learn about the power of city-led public service campaigns in Barcelona (Spain) and Sheffield (UK) that create safe, welcoming communities by challenging myths and changing misconceptions about immigrants and refugees. These local responses to anti-discrimination help us understand the role and capacity of local government to integrate migrants and provide equal opportunities for all residents.

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Featured Good Ideas:

  • In Sheffield, with the support of City Council, the city became the first “City of Sanctuary” in the UK.  The movement has been adopted by over 26 cities to dispel the misconceptions around refugees and build a culture of municipal hospitality for people seeking sanctuary. Watch the Video Presentation
  • In Barcelona, the City Council’s Barcelona Anti-Rumor Network is part of a long-term strategy to improve coexistence among locals and new immigrants. This clever public service campaign uses undercover community ‘agents’, humour, up-to-date facts and figures to dispel rumours and prejudice about minorities and immigrants. Watch the Video Presentation

Tips from the Presenters

Find allies to sell positive messages and stories
You can’t win over everyone. Identify like-minded people or organizations, include the voices of migrants, and build on what is already there. The Barcelona Anti-Rumor Network strategically looked for allies in the Media who had previously covered immigrant stories in a positive light. The City recruited “anti-rumour agents” from different professions, NGOs, local leaders and famous people to push their anti-rumour campaign to the general public. Anti-rumour agents received training which included role playing various situations so that people could build dialogue and tools around countering negative rumours. In Sheffield, the City of Sanctuary movemement trained asylum seekers in public speaking so they could confidently share their stories first hand in schools and other public forums.

Get local authorities to back your plan and spread the campaign
NGOs and city councillors need to work closely to develop strategies together. The City of Sanctuary movement prepared a manifesto that offered city workers and councilors a plan and ideas of how to create a culture of welcome. The Anti-Rumour Campaign was part of Barcelona’s Intercultural Plan which developed a MOU with other city administrations across the regions to take the campaign even further.

Counter stereotypes with facts and information using all available media
The Barcelona Anti-Rumour Network created websites, comic books and humourous videos to engage youth, and anti-rumour agent manuals for local community leaders.


Sarah Eldridge
Development Officer, City of Sanctuary (Sheffield)

Sarah Eldridge started working with refugees after some 20 years as a journalist with the BBC. Her experience in communication led to an interest in the way messages are conveyed, particularly relating to controversial issues like asylum. After two years as Media Officer with the Information Centre about Asylum & Refugees at London’s City University, Sarah decided she wanted to work more closely with how asylum messages are played out on the ground. City of Sanctuary is a movement started in Sheffield that aims to promote a culture of welcome by encouraging acts of hospitality amongst local people and organisations. As Development Officer Sarah works with asylum seekers and refugees to raise awareness by appealing to the basic human instinct of empathy. Refugees share their stories and experiences in the hope of provoking a positive response that will lead to greater understanding and supportive behaviour. City of Sanctuary also organises events where local people and refugees share food, music and other aspects of their cultures, exploring issues of common interest and concern.

Ramon Sanahuja
Director of Immigration and Interculturality, Barcelona City Council (Barcelona)

Since July 2011, Ramon Sanahuja has been the director of Immigration and Interculturality at the City of Barcelona. Previously, he was the Director of the Immigration and International Cooperation Department where he was responsible for the Barcelona Intercultural plan. He is the Chairman of the Migration working group of Eurocites on behalf of the city of Barcelona (since 2009). He was re-elected as Chairman in March 2012. These working group includes main cities in Europe like Helsinki, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen. Oslo; Stockholm, Munich, etc. He has participated in many Congress on Immigration issues, Seminaries, University Post degrees (ESADE, University of Barcelona, Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and other Communications and Speeches, locally and internationally.

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