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University of Leeds working towards University of Sanctuary status

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Four people stand with a blue plaque honouring Esther Simpson OBE, a Leeds University graduate who assisted hundreds of refugee academics during the Second World War. The University of Leeds is working towards Sanctuary status to give further direction and visibility to research and education in this field, as well as to work with students and staff seeking Sanctuary. We have a long history of supporting those seeking sanctuary. We have recently named the new Esther Simpson building (above) in honour of one of our graduates, who assisted hundreds of refugee academics during and after the Second World War. Leeds Civic Trust have also recognised Esther Simpson and her work by installing a blue plaque on the building.


Among the activities at the University are the Sanctuary Scholarships (, extensive work with the Council for at Risk Academics (, research on forced migration, project and research work with students, Ukraine university twinning, and community outreach work including English language and gallery engagement. In the near future weโ€™re hoping to improve our training for students and staff, and increase our co-ordination and resource for sanctuary work.


We are also working with other universities in Leeds in the hope we might collectively become โ€˜Leeds Universities of Sanctuaryโ€™. If you would like to work with us, please contact Mel Prideaux ([email protected]).


A photo of the outside of the Esther Simpson building, with a tree in the foreground.