A CITY campaign supporting refugees has relaunched as a not-for-profit community organisation.

Oxford City of Sanctuary Ltd is dedicated to empowering refugees and migrants through training, employment, and ownership.

The relaunch was marked with a public meeting on Sunday at the Asian Cultural Centre in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road.

Invited speakers included Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon; Lord Mayor Craig Simmons; Oxford city and county councillor Jamila Azad, county councillor Suzanne Bartington, city councillor Lubna Arshad, and the city council’s Migrant Champion, Labour city councillor Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini.

READ AGAIN: Have you ever been a Seacourt park-and-ride cheat

A speaker from Oxford’s Syrian refugee community, Hadi Muhamad, said: “We are told 'learn English to integrate'.

“But there is no motivation to learn English if you are not working.

Oxford Mail:

“Your life has no purpose if have no job and you don’t have the chance to contribute.

"We need work, and we want to work and lead dignified lives.

“If you are talking to people every day in a job, then you learn English.”

Ms Dodds confirmed that she will be supporting an amendment to the new Immigration Bill that is currently passing through parliament.

READ AGAIN: Scales of Justice: latest court results for Oxfordshire

This would allow Asylum Seekers the right to work while they are waiting for their case to be resolved. Right now they are not permitted to work, and are forced to rely on around £35 per week in welfare payments, and charitable handouts, so many are falling into destitution.

It can take the Home Office years to make a decision on an immigration case.

Oxford East Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Alistair Fernie said Britain has admitted a 'pitifully' small number of refugees since 2015.

“We need to step up to our international responsibilities and do better.”

Oxford City of Sanctuary was run by a network of enthusiastic volunteers as an unincorporated campaign from around 2009, when the council first voted to declare Oxford a ‘City of Sanctuary’.

The council renewed its pledge in 2014, and again earlier this year.

Oxford Mail:

Three supporters who were involved in the revival of activity in 2014 – Dr Evelyne Godfrey, Dr Hojjat Ramzy and Emma Jones – have now registered Oxford CofS with the Financial Conduct Authority as a trading co-operative.

Co-operatives provide democratically managed services to the community, and are neither profit-driven nor charitable entities relying on unpaid volunteers.

READ MORE: Survivors of modern slavery speak at event

Oxford City of Sanctuary Ltd has a commitment to paying its workers the Oxford Living Wage.

It is now structured is a Community Benefit Society, so that as well as having individual members, it can continue to act as an ‘umbrella organisation’ by having corporate body members, including all the other groups and charities that have been doing great work for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants in Oxfordshire for many years.

For more visit oxfordcityofsanctuary.org