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Sunderland Song of Sanctuary music video released to celebrate Refugee Week
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People seeking sanctuary in Sunderland have been busy preparing an animation video for a new song that reflects the city as a safe place for people seeking refuge from war.

The music video premiered on Friday 23rd June during Refugee Week 2023 (19 – 25 June). Refugee Week celebrates the contribution, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. This year’s theme is ‘Compassion’ which the organisers describe as crucial as society adjusts to new realities post-lockdown as well as advocating for humane conditions for people seeking sanctuary.

The theme of the song runs along the same lines, showing all the ways Sunderland has been a home for those seeking a better life:

We’re the encore at the Empire / We are Penshaw’s pillars tall / We’re the joiner and the jeweller / And we welcome one and all.

The song ‘Bridge Across the River’ was written last year with the refugee charity Friends of the Drop In with the community musicians from Citizen Songwriters. It was performed at Sunderland College in June 2022 to coincide with Sunderland City Council becoming accredited as a City of Sanctuary.

This year, the group have secured extra funding to produce a self-created animated video with the help of animator Sheryl Jenkins, and recorded with young local musicians from We Make Culture in the Field Music Studios in Sunderland.


For people seeking sanctuary, who have seen the song from its creation through to designing the artwork for the animation, the project has made a huge difference:

“We were in a professional studio for the first time and something beautiful happened. It is amazing to hear our song and each one of us singing”

“The project has expanded my horizons, with meeting new people and supporting such a wonderful cause”

Laura Brewis, Director of We Make Culture says "It's been a pleasure to bring Young Musicians Project and FODI families together for the recording of this song for Refugee Week. As an organisation based in Sunderland, it is really important that we are using music to welcome people into our community and city and we look forward to working with the families in the future."

As the song’s chorus concludes:

We’re the bridge across the river / We’re the sanctuary by the sea / You don’t have to worry / There’s a place for you to be.

We are thankful to Sunderland Council for funding this project. 

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