Norwich, City of Refuge

In June 2007 Norwich became the UK’s first City of Refuge, so joining the International Cities of Refuge Network ( ICORN). Through this scheme, Norwich joins an international network of cities offering residency to politically exiled writers who have been denied freedom of speech in their home countries. Norwich, City of Refuge is made up of three main strands: the community programme, hosting an exiled writer and the Shahrazad programme.

Our Community Programme launched in June 2006 and comprises of the strangers and canaries project (for young people),  competitions, a library project and various training and workshop opportunities. It is a comprehensive and ever evolving programme and we work with a wide range of local partners. Check out our Calendar of Events page for an update on new opportunities and events.

Norwich's first exiled  Writer in Residence Jiao Guobiao arrived in Norwich in February 2008.

If you would like to get involved with any part of the City of Refuge programme, we are always open to volunteers.

Background to Norwich, City of Refuge

The concept of a ‘City of Refuge’ is based on the Cities of Asylum that were founded by the International Parliament of Writers in 1993. Established by Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Margaret Drabble and Jacques Derrida among others, the parliament was created in response to the assassination of writers in Algeria. The International Parliament of Writers has since dissolved, but the scheme was left intact and has developed in over 30 cities across the world, including Stavanger where the International Cities of Refuge Network ( ICORN) is based. We were very proud to welcome the second ICORN General Assembly to Norwich in June 2007.

All of the initiatives running in Norwich will help to promote tolerance and understanding, and by joining this network, Norwich actively signals its commitment to free speech and anti-racism. 

Norwich City of Refuge is supported by The Urban Cultural Fund, the University of East Anglia, PEN UK, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Anguish's Educational Trust.