Wednesday, June 05, 2019

STARs of Volunteers’ Week

Our new STAR Volunteering Coordinator, Jida, has been touring the UK visiting STAR groups and checking out their volunteering projects.

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In the past few weeks she’s been to homework clubs and English conversation clubs in Bristol, Nottingham, Surrey, and Coventry. During these visits, she was really impressed to see how students are making a difference and creating a welcoming environment for refugees across the UK by giving up their free time to volunteer in their local communities.

And that’s only a small number of the projects that STAR students are involved in. In fact, last year there were 90 volunteering projects supported and run by 2023 students giving a warm welcome to 4079 people who have come to the UK fleeing war and persecution.

To give you an idea of how it works here is a a blog from STAR Birmingham’s Volunteer Coordinator, Emily, where she explains the group’s volunteering activities this year.

“From setting up a football club, to hosting the Museum without a Home exhibition in our university library, to organising a rally on campus in support of the #FamiliesTogether campaign, lots of new and exciting things have happened at Birmingham STAR this academic year! We have continued to balance campaigning and volunteering, and both are made possible through fundraising, which this year has ranged from donut and cake sales, to a fun run, to a second hand clothes kilo-sale.

Every week, we run a number of different projects in a local accommodation centre for people seeking asylum: on Mondays, we run an hour long conversational English club which ranges from teaching basic phrases, to in-depth discussions; English fluency of people in our lessons ranges from those with no English at all, to those with multiple degrees or English teaching qualifications themselves. On Wednesdays, our children’s playscheme gives children living in the centre a space to play, as well as giving parents time to themselves, and on Thursdays run film nights to bring a little more excitement to the residents.

We also run walking tours to help people get their bearings in Birmingham, learn about the city’s museum, as well as walking to the top of the library to see a view of Birmingham’s skyline. Just before the end of the autumn term, we had a winter party in the centre, with food and drinks, and gifts for children, as well as recently organising a food collection for Ramadan alongside our university’s IMED society.

Most recently, we secured funding from UoB’s Alumni Fund to set up a football club, which takes 12 people from the centre to the University’s football pitches for a game every Sunday afternoon. Some of those who take part have expressed how much they enjoyed taking part, including one man who said it was the first time he had the chance to play in over two years. All of our volunteering projects aim to give those taking part a sense of belonging, as well as a friendly face to people who have just arrived in a new city or country.

We couldn’t do any of this without our wonderful volunteers; we have managed to bring together a dedicated group of students who are eager to learn about and raise awareness of issues facing refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and abroad, and are excited to develop new ideas in the year ahead!”

We are so proud of the way students have been contributing to raising awareness about asylum and helping refugees get settled and feel at home in the UK for almost 25 years with STAR, and we’re looking forward to many more years of this to come!

Posted by STAR team on 05/06/2019 at 10:06 AM