Monday, April 20, 2020

STAR’s Action Week to Lift the Ban: Round Up

Every year, STAR groups come together to campaign on one issue where we can make a big impact. For Action Week this year (9 -15 March), 15 STAR groups campaigned for the right to work for people seeking asylum as part of the Lift the Ban campaign coalition in the UK.

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[Image description: A collage of photos consisting of Cardiff STAR students and learners from their conversation club holding up action cards that describe their dream jobs. Cardiff STAR hosts a weekly conversation club for people from refugee backgrounds.]

From Sussex to York, STAR groups organised a total of 18 awareness-raising events and stalls. At the end, STAR events the campaign reached 4,000 people in total and students gathered 1,200 signatures through petitions. Let’s have a look at some of the STAR awareness-raising events and celebrate their efforts!

Bristol STAR

Bristol STAR launched a series of events that were weaved into a successful and widespread campaign that lasted for two months! They held a petition asking the Bristol City Council to join the Lift the Ban coalition and support the campaign. Along with 30 volunteers, Bristol STAR took the signatures and met with several councillors across many parties to ask for their support and advice.
Here are some event highlights:
A campaign launch. Speakers were invited to speak at the event, including a person from Lift the Ban with lived experience of the Ban, a researcher from the university’s Criminology department with a PhD in asylum-seeking women and a representative from NACCOM (No Accommodation Network). The students used the event to collect petition signatures.
A panel event with Thangam Debbonaire MP (Bristol West), a representative from the Red Cross, a person with lived experience of the Ban and a representative from the City of Sanctuary. The event explored the topic on a deeper level and from many different perspectives.
A campaign finale to celebrate Bristol-based charities, as well as a way to give a last boost of awareness to the campaign. The event was a drinks and nibbles evening and featured a talk by STAR’s Student Network Coordinator Maddy Robinson, a labour party city councillor, two people with experience of the Ban and the coalition from Refugee Action.

Bath STAR

Bath STAR had a film screening of For Sama, in collaboration with the Film Society. They took 25 people with them to join the protagonist’s struggle in the face of war.

Cardiff STAR

Cardiff STAR brought the Action Week resources to their weekly conversation class and got students and refugees to fill out the action cards with their dream job. These action cards were then posted on social media. Hannah from Cardiff STAR said: “Great conversation starter on meaningful topics people don’t usually get into!”

LSESU STAR

LSESU STAR hosted a panel discussion featuring Christine Jardine MP and Mariam Temple Hardy, Head of Campaigns at Refugee Action, discussing the right to work for people seeking asylum. They also had a stall outside the Student Union building across 3 days, asking students to take part in the Lift the Ban campaign by signing action cards and participating in the video created by committee member and STAR national volunteer Pam. They used the stall to promote Refugee Week, handing out flyers and stickers, and selling donated Hummingbird bakery cupcakes to raise money for the STAR charity. Nothing is better than food with a good cause!

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[Image description: This is a picture featuring two students from LSESU STAR standing behind the stall outside of LSESU with a pamphlet in hand, promoting the Lift the Ban campaign.]

Many more events were planned but had to be cancelled because of COVID-19, but the students were dedicated to move forward with the campaign despite the challenges. STAR students quickly adapted to the situation and moved the events online. For example, Northampton STAR changed their plan from hosting a stall for bake sales, to promoting an online petition and sending positive stories of refugees’ achievements after work became accessible for them. As an unintended result, the campaign raised more awareness with an audience that they did not expect to reach out of the university campus.

Posted by STAR team on 20/04/2020 at 04:10 PM