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“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

Article 14 Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 


Portsmouth is a city proud to offer safety and sanctuary to anyone fleeing violence and persecution and to  those who feel exposed and isolated. With dignity and compassion, we support people at risk in the city. 


Portsmouth City of Sanctuary (PCoS) has initiated the Spaces of Sanctuary (SoS) project in partnership with others in the city, which will develop a network of private and public sector venues throughout the city  that are trained and supported to respond to the needs of anyone seeking safety and dignified support in  Portsmouth. SoS aims to consolidate tangible goodwill in the city in support of people experiencing vulnerability.  

Initial surveys carried out in 2020 by PCoS suggest that, though people are willing and wanting to offer  support they lacked the necessary skills to do so.  

PCoS does not discriminate on any grounds; each of its services is open to all, without distinction, and irrespective of age, class, colour, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, language,  immigration status, political or other opinion, profession, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any  other status.  

The venues that apply to be part of the SoS initiative will be expected to adhere to the same values and  participate in a specifically designed training programme to proceed with their application. 

Engagement with the project will also bring about change in the volunteers as they will be better placed to  empathise with the lived experiences of their neighbours; this is particularly important as the city begins  to open post Covid-19, as those who have been suffering during lockdown perhaps need that extra support  in re-engaging with pre-Covid activities. 


  1. PCoS, in partnership with Portsmouth Dignity Network (PDN), Pompey Safe Spaces Scheme (PSSS), and the  Lord Mayor’s Office, through this project aims to consult, set up and train a network of community  volunteers that will in turn offer Spaces of Sanctuary (SoS) to anyone seeking safety and dignified support  in Portsmouth. It will realise this aim through three specific objectives. 

The first objective is to encourage private and public sectors to engage with the SoS and PSSS through the  dissemination of information and a SoS city-wide survey and leaflet drop. 

2. The second objective is to expand the existing strong PCoS network by having at least 75% of  survey respondents sign up to the SoS initiative by the end of 2021, and over 100 volunteers trained in  delivering specific support within the first 6 months.  

The third and final objective is to put the outreach and the training into action by providing a city-wide  comprehensive SoS service to those in need of support. The establishment of the network will happen  gradually over time and grow as more and more venues sign up to the initiative and are trained, and  volunteers DBS checked as appropriate.  

If you would like to sign up to our SoS initiative please email our project lead –

Shaun Martinez –   [email protected]