Monday, May 17, 2010
Kate Sillis, this year’s President for Southampton STAR, talks about her volunteering experiences and what her STAR group has been up to.
Kate Sillis, Southampton STAR President
Had you worked with refugees or asylum seekers before joining STAR?
No, I hadn’t. I have volunteered but not with asylum seekers and refugees before. I knew a bit about it and I was open-minded before I worked with them.
How did you get involved with STAR?
I was part of a mailing list for volunteers at Southampton University and there was a posting for volunteers for an after-school homework club with Southampton STAR, that’s how I heard about them. I also went to STAR training days and the conference in 2009 and I have been volunteering ever since.
What has your STAR group been up to recently?
I volunteer at the Multicultural Centre in Southampton for refugees and asylum seekers. There’s food and a range of workshops and a crèche. British Red Cross and Refugee Action also give advice to refugees and asylum seekers at the centre.
We also volunteer at two schools. We volunteer at Upper Shirley High and run a homework club with about 8 kids, they get help with homework from STAR volunteers.
We also volunteer at St. Mary’s and help kids with Maths, ICT and English. Since we started volunteering at the school the number of kids that attend has gone up to 20, so that’s really good. Our Co-ordinator Eric organises training sessions with the volunteers at the schools too.
What do you think is the best thing asylum seekers get from your STAR activities?
I think the fact that they get one-to-one help with their homework, help with ICT, sports and encouragement from the volunteers as well is beneficial.
The Multicultural Centre has hundreds of people come in for advice every week. They are able to get food, socialise and get some crucial advice. There are lots of opportunities there.
What have you enjoyed most about the work you do with STAR?
I’ve met amazing people and learned so much. I’ve learned a lot through the training sessions and the conferences.
I have also made links with other charities and like the fact that I am reaching out to people. I’m really grateful for all the people I’ve met.
What would you consider a highlight since you started volunteering with STAR?
I have to say it would be the event we held in March for Action for Refugees Week 2010 to raise money for SWVG (Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group). Ice and Fire performed ‘Asylum Dialogues’ and there was a band night.
We then had a discussion involving STAR members and Ice and Fire. After the show an Afghan refugee in the audience went on stage and told his story.
He told us that the work we do makes a real difference and thanked us all. It was really moving. It was nice because these are the people we are trying to help.
It’s been a really rewarding experience and I’ve been quite lucky to work with a dedicated committee. I feel that we have achieved a lot this year.
Posted by Communications on 17/05/2010 at 08:00 AM
in Group News
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