Friday, June 01, 2018

It’s Volunteers’ Week!

Here at STAR we’re celebrating all of the amazing work that STAR student volunteers do welcoming refugees into their towns and cities. This year our groups have run and helped out at 56 volunteering projects supporting hundreds of refugees across the UK and Ireland.

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There is so much that STAR volunteers do in their local communities- from helping out at homework clubs, running sports clubs and English conversation clubs to organising clothes collections and family fun days – and that’s as well as all of the events they organise to educate people about asylum and to campaign for change for refugees.

Here’s just a few of the great volunteering projects that have been going on this year….

Welcome to Birmingham!

There is very little to do in the temporary accommodation centre housing newly arrived refugees near Birmingham University. It’s particularly hard for the children as they aren’t able to attend school. Nine years ago Birmingham STAR decided to do something about it. They started a weekly kids club which is still going today! Each week the student volunteers turn up with games, arts activities and plenty of enthusiasm and bring a bit of fun into the centre for the children. The group were aware that it wasn’t only the children who were struggling with life in the centre and over the years they have started and run lots of other projects.

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Today they host a regular walking tour of the city centre so new residents feel confident getting out and about and are able to access the internet in the local library and an English conversation club to give people the language skills they need to start a new life in the UK. Last year they also had the brilliant but simple idea of borrowing a projector from the university and showing family films in the big canteen in the evening, it was so popular that they’ve now made this into a regular event!

“We have so many wonderful volunteers who turn up every week to English conversation, play scheme and film nights. The thing that has defined my university experience is not my degree but STAR! It has been an incredible three years!” (Izzy , 3rd yr Anthropology and African Studies student & President of Birmingham STAR)

Welcome to Glasgow!

Glasgow STAR was set up last year and since then they have been busy organising lots of events including film screenings, talks and debates to raise awareness about the situation of refugees in the UK. When they approached local charity Maryhill Integration Network to see what else they could do, they were told that local refugees really needed some extra help with their English. So they started up an English conversation club. It’s proved very popular and is attended by up to 20 refugees each week who all get the rare opportunity to have one to one conversation practice with native speakers in a friendly welcoming environment – and of course there is tea and cake on offer too!

“In Glasgow the language is very hard for me, the accent, I don’t understand anything! I meet with my neighbour but I don’t understand just morning, evening, how are you. It’s ok but I want to learn more, more, more. I think here [conversation club] for me is better than college!” (Club attendee from Syria)

“We have loved setting up the conversation club and have been amazed by the great outcome. It’s great to see friendships form and hear from the attendees how beneficial it actually has been to them! Our Christmas party was especially fun with Christmas bingo and a choir concert” (Martina, 4th yr medical student and President of Glasgow STAR)

Posted by STAR team on 01/06/2018 at 10:52 AM