Carlisle is moving closer to being officially recognised as a City of Sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers.

A steering group, which includes Carlisle Refugee Action Group, has been set-up to push for the city achieving this status by the end of this year.

The aim of City of Sanctuary is to ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers feel safe in the UK.

Adrienne Gill, co-ordinator of CRAG, said: “It is really to recognise the great welcome we have given to refugees over the past three and a half years.

“It is called City of Sanctuary but you can also be an organisation, a university or school, a hospital, or another institution, also smaller communities.

“Carlisle is going for the City of Sanctuary award in the next few months.”

The charity behind this recognition connects organisations with a network of others across the country that are supporting refugees.

CRAG has already been working with the City of Sanctuary charity but achieving official sanctuary status will solidify the city’s role as a safe and welcoming place for those in need.

“It is really important because so much great work has been done to welcome refugees in the city and that status will put a stamp on that work,” said Adrienne.

“It encourages the groups that have opened their communities and made their organisations more welcoming to continue doing what they are doing.

“We would also like to start welcoming some asylum seekers in the area in the next few years so it would also help with that.”

Cumbria has a long history of opening its doors to those in need.

The most well-known instance is that of the 300 holocaust survivors who were settled in Windermere 75 years ago.

Councillor Niall McNulty, chairperson of the Carlisle City of Sanctuary steering group, said: “It is a privilege to be part of this steering group which aims to celebrate the skills refugees and asylum seekers bring to their local community and showcase Carlisle as a city that takes pride in the welcome it offers people.

“Carlisle should rightly be proud in being a place of sanctuary to people fleeing violence and persecution, with a positive supportive community involvement, epitomised by the work CRAG has led with over the last five years.”