Monday, November 19, 2007

Review: STAR Conference 2007

120 delegates, 12 workshops, 8 action sessions, 6 panellists, 3 keynote speakers, 1 short movie, and 1 truly AWESOME party.

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The tenth STAR national conference was held at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre in London on the 10th-11th of November. The conference brought together students and young people from across the country and STAR network to listen to speakers, attend workshops and action sessions and discuss the issues that lie at the crux of the asylum debate. Most importantly, it was a chance to meet each other and share ideas and enthusiasm.

It was a jam-packed weekend, but there were lots of fair-trade goodies to keep people fuelled and ready to go. The natural enthusiasm of all the attendees also meant they threw themselves in to every activity with gusto. Many delegates were impressed in particular by the keynote speakers. These included included Marie Lyse Numuhoza, a refugee from Rwanda who is now a project manager at the Scarman Trust; Melanie McFadyean, journalist and winner of an Amnesty International Media Award, and Jon Cruddas, MP for Barking and Dagenham. The STAR Question Time Panel also tackled questions on detention, deportation of HIV sufferers to countries with no access to medicine, and legal aid.

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The Saturday afternoon workshops were an opportunity for delegates to get expert information and insight on issues as diverse as Still Human Still Here, Understanding the Impact of Torture, Refugee Women, and Climate Change and Migration. The Sunday action sessions also sent delegates away with ideas on “Dealing with Difficult Questions”, “Effective Volunteering” and “e-campaigning” amongst others.

To celebrate National Conference’s tenth birthday a brilliant party took place on Saturday night at the Euston Flyer. Delegates tucked in to birthday cupcakes and danced the night away to music from columbian drummers, DJs Ruby and Sol, Family Atlantica and Radio Revolucion. The Euston Flyer regulars looked, frankly, bemused but we feel were ultimately impressed by our funky dancing moves, and at one point moshing!

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After a night spent in the crashpad some delegates looked distinctly worse for wear on Sunday. But that didn’t stop them coming up with brilliant ideas in the action sessions and asking some searching questions at the AGM. Finally, delegates created a “Starry Night”, writing down resolutions and hopes for the year to come.

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It was a delight to celebrate our tenth National Conference with so many people who brought their passion, commitment, ideas and enthusiasm to make the tenth national conference a true clebratory bonanza.

*All photos care of Tom Elkins at Coldframe*

Posted by Stephen Rowling on 19/11/2007 at 11:02 AM