A Colchester theatre has received a special award in recognition of their support of “vulnerable migrants”. 

The Mercury Theatre became the first venue in Essex to receive the Theatre of Sanctuary accolade for their decade-long work with volunteer organisation RAMA - Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action. 

The site was commemorated for its refuge-oriented community projects such as the Global Choir group and the intergenerational craft and drama-based meet-ups. 

The award is provided by the British charity City of Sanctuary, which was founded in 2005 to promote and resource activities that focus on including refugees seeking safety in the UK.


It recognises organisations that build a culture of hospitality and inclusion. 

Maria Wilby, operation lead at RAMA, said: "The Mercury Theatre has been functioning as an ally of vulnerable migrants in and around Colchester for many years. It is a pleasure to see this work formally recognised by the City of Sanctuary movement.  

"I know that there is a dedicated commitment at the theatre to make the lives of those seeking sanctuary better. The warm welcome and careful thought around people’s needs put in by the Mercury team is a valued gift for this city." 

Hazel Edwards, south-east area director at Arts Council England, added: "It is wonderful to see Mercury Theatre recognised for their amazing outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees with this Theatre of Sanctuary Award.  

"Theatres, arts centres and other cultural spaces often act as safe havens, providing creative opportunities as well as company and support for some of the most vulnerable members of our local communities.  

"Our congratulations go out to everyone at the theatre as well as those at RAMA. We look forward to seeing this vital work flourish well into the future." 

Steve Mannix, the Mercury's executive director, was thrilled about the award.

He said: “We are honoured to be one of only 16 venues in the UK to receive this award, in recognition of our ongoing work with RAMA and Colchester City Council.

"Given the dark times around the world at the moment, we’re glad Colchester can provide a safe home and warm welcome to displaced people.”