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Calling people of Sunderland to join a community music project!

This summer (2022), Citizen Songwriters are creating a performance piece to celebrate the diverse stories of sanctuary in Sunderland. From glass makers to pilgrims, from shipbuilders to recently arrived sanctuary seekers, people have been arriving and shaping the culture of Sunderland for many centuries.

Citizen Songwriters works with communities to co-create songs all about the stories of people, places and the causes that matter to them. We will be hosting a number of workshops in Sunderland in May and June 2022 to gather stories about seeking sanctuary and to train people to sing together to share these stories alongside the musicians from Citizen Songwriters. During Refugee Week, on Saturday 25 June 7pm, we'll be performing the songs live - get your tickets here!

The first Stories of Sanctuary project took place in Durham in 2018 and brought together local residents including Syrian refugees recently settled in the North East. We are including some of the original songs from this project in the new Sunderland Stories of Sanctuary performance, along with Raghad Haddad a viola player from the National Syrian Orchestra.


Come and write, rehearse and sing with us! 

We are specifically interested in working with diverse communities living in Sunderland who have unheard stories of migrating to Sunderland. We are keen to include stories of people who have recently arrived as well as those who grew up in Sunderland from migratory backgrounds (for example those whose family moved for the shipbuilding in the 20th century).

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Dates for the songwriting workshops:

Thursday 19th May (5 – 7pm)
Thursday 26th May (5 – 7pm)
At Sunderland College Arts Academy


We will also be running workshops with refugees and people seeking sanctuary from Friends of the Drop In at Sunderland Minster who will form part of the choir.


Dates for the rehearsals:

Thursday 9th June (5 – 7pm)
Thursday 16th June (5 – 7pm)
Thursday 23rd June (5 – 7pm)
At Sunderland College Arts Academy

A public performance of Stories of Sanctuary Sunderland will take place on Saturday 25 June 2022 (rehearsing 4pm, performing 7.30pm) at Sunderland College with a new community choir formed of participants from the songwriting workshops.

Get involved: 

If you/your community are interested in taking part, please email

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