Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Heart of STAR 2016 - Amy-Leigh Hatton

In celebration of STAR’s 25th birthday, we took the time to reconnect and share the stories of the people who made it possible for STAR to be where it is today. These are The Hearts of STAR, these are the change-makers, who through the decades strived to positively impact the lives of refugees and create a welcoming society in the UK and we are proud to share their stories with you on this Refugee Week 2020.

Amy-Leigh Hatton

Bristol STAR
Current job: CASE Graduate Trainee at the University of Bristol

How and why did you get involved in STAR?

I remember seeing a STAR stall at Freshers Fair and feeling ecstatic that there were like-minded students at my University committed to welcoming refugees. After spending time volunteering in Lesbos and Athens in 2016, I was determined to continue giving my time to something that positively impacted the lives of refugees whilst at University. STAR offered me volunteer opportunities, but also the opportunity to campaign and run events – I couldn’t get enough!

What are you doing now?

I’m a CASE Graduate Trainee placed at the University of Bristol. The graduate scheme offers insight into fundraising, philanthropy and advancement within higher education. Our office fundraises for our Sanctuary Scholarship programme, and I am fortunate enough to be the project lead on this!

What impact did you see STAR have on your community?

a. At university
Through campaigns, particularly Equal Access, STAR ensures that campuses are more inclusive places, where students are better informed and as a result better allies.

b. Locally
STAR offered a message of welcome from the university to the local community, making it clear that students stand with refugees. Our volunteers offered a friendly face to members of the community. Our community engagement events, like our Welcome Feast, and our trips to the University, helped to weaken the ‘town and gown’ divide within Bristol by bringing communities together. This was especially true at our ‘Open Day’ – we wanted to make clear that University is a place for everyone.

What is your favourite thing about STAR?

My favourite thing about STAR is the collective impact the nature of the charity has. Over 50 student groups across the country campaigning together is powerful. Watching the vote in parliament in favour of the bill on Refugee Family Reunion is a moment I will always remember.

What impact did STAR have on your life or on what you do now?

STAR was such a significant part of my student experience. I met amazing people, made friends for life, and learnt so much about cultures and people. I had the most incredible time working alongside friends to deliver events, volunteer projects and campaigns. Being a volunteer leader, an events coordinator and then a President provided me with so much experience and a blooming plethora of transferable skills. I know I wouldn’t be in the role I am today if it wasn’t for my time with STAR. Access to fair and equal education had always been something I was passionate about, but working on the Equal Access campaign during my time at University ignited a real fire in my belly to continue fighting for access to education for refugees and asylum seekers. When I saw an opportunity to work in an office that directly supported the Sanctuary Scholarships (alongside SO many other fantastic projects) I knew I had to go for it. I’m now working in a sector I never considered a career in, and absolutely loving it.

What message would you like to give the current STAR students?

Make the effort to get to know the refugees and asylum seekers you support. Include them in the work you do. Put their ideas at the forefront of your creative direction. Don’t get so wrapped up in the bigger picture than you forget about the individuals around you!

Posted by STAR team on 17/06/2020 at 05:15 PM