Sheffielders over-estimate number of asylum seekers in city

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Most Sheffielders overestimate the number of asylum seekers living in the city, a new survey suggests.

More than seven in 10 people guessed the figure was higher than it actually is, according to a poll carried out to mark 10 years since Sheffield became the UK's first City of Sanctuary.

BBC Radio Sheffield, which is hosting a week of programming to commemorate the milestone, commissioned a poll for which 750 people in Sheffield were quizzed about refugees and asylum seekers in the city.

The survey by pollsters Opinium showed 71 per cent of respondents over-estimated how many asylum seekers are currently being housed in Sheffield, with the correct figure being 846.

It also revealed almost half (46 per cent) of people support Sheffield being a City of Sanctuary but a third (35 per cent) are undecided.

A third (33 per cent) of people said they would feel comfortable if an asylum seeker or refugee moved onto their street, but a similar proportion (31 per cent) said they would feel uncomfortable and 34 per cent were indifferent.

The City of Sanctuary movement was set up to ensure those seeking refuge are given a warm welcome and helped to settle into their new neighbourhoods.

In 2007, Sheffield became the first city to be awarded the title, which is now held by more than 80 places across the UK and Ireland.

BBC Radio Sheffield's special week of programming began today and will run until Friday, June 23.

Katrina Bunker, the station's editor, said: "On air and online we’ll hear some incredible stories of people who’ve sought refuge in our area – from the man who had to escape Afghanistan dressed as a woman to the Zimbabwean bank manager who now does voluntary work in Sheffield. Every story is different, always interesting and often moving.

"We'll have some engaging debates across our programmes as we discuss the results of the poll and assess how welcoming we are in this area and I’m particularly looking forward to hearing our round table discussion when we bring listeners together with refugees and asylum seekers in Sheffield as this is something we haven’t done before on BBC Radio Sheffield. It promises to be a fascinating week."

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