Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The Heart of STAR 2017 - Lauren Darwent

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.

Lauren Darwent

2017 – present
STAR Student Trustee & president of LSESU STAR

How and why did you get involved in STAR?

I led an Amnesty youth group when I was at school and was already really interested in refugee issues so I knew that I wanted to join this kind of society at uni. I came across STAR during freshers fair and then was elected to the LSESU STAR committee in the first week of my first year, so it’s been absolutely central to my uni experience!

STAR, in particular, appealed to me because I really admired how STAR was active on both a local and national level, enabling students to support refugees and people seeking asylum through volunteering, but also campaigning for policy change. I love that STAR students are really well supported by the STAR staff team but also have the autonomy to explore issues outside of STAR’s core campaigns, including the link between the climate crisis and migration.

What impact did you see STAR have on your community:

a. At university
LSESU STAR events and campaigns on UK family reunion legislation, immigration detention rules, and how people seeking asylum don’t have the right to work enable us to engage students from a variety of year groups and on different degree programmes. We often hold educational and fundraising stalls outside the Students Union to widen our reach beyond those who are already like-minded.

Being involved with STAR has also shaped my perception of the LSE community. When I started at LSE, I felt out of place in a corporate environment. But being on the STAR committee has really taught me that the LSE stereotype doesn’t necessarily hold. There are so many students who care about the same issues as you do, you just have to get involved to find them.

b. Locally
For the first time, LSESU STAR is running an English Conversation Club in partnership with English for Action (EFA). Our volunteers use participatory learning approaches to connect with refugees and people seeking asylum in Southwark and help them to improve their conversational English in a fun, friendly environment. Also, tying in with STAR’s Equal Access campaign, LSESU STAR is organising a university open day in collaboration with LSE Widening Participation.

What is your favourite thing about STAR?

My favourite thing about STAR is how what the charity does is both diverse and impactful. All the groups operate in different ways but the entire network is doing a wonderful job, in big and small ways, of making the UK more welcoming for refugees and people seeking asylum.

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

STAR has had a huge impact on my life. Being involved with STAR has affirmed that I want to work in the charity sector full-time after graduating and that I’m especially interested in fundraising. Also, my experiences with STAR, including in organising events and building good relationships with team members, have made me more confident when applying for third sector jobs and internships.

If I hadn’t gotten involved with STAR I never would have the opportunity to be a Student Trustee. It’s a privilege to be representing STAR students and playing a part in the running of STAR today. I also love learning from fellow trustees who have built careers in the charity sector.

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

To say THANK YOU and keep being STARs! I love meeting and learning from other STARs at Committee Training and STAR’s National Conference, so if you’ve never been to these events I highly recommend it. You make STAR the amazing movement that it is, so stay passionate!

An inspirational quote from the heart of STAR

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)

Posted by STAR team on 17/06/2020 at 06:25 PM