3 April 2020
STAR students haven’t let the current situation stop their incredible work. Northampton STAR held an online conversation club with young learners while Kent STAR organised a virtual cinema screening of a BAFTA award-winning documentary. Creativity carried on with Goldsmiths STAR preparing to launch the second issue of EKO magazine on an online platform to share stories from people with lived experience and volunteers while Glasgow STAR has been donating to support local refugee charities.
Read on to find out more and what you can do.
With face to face events and volunteering projects cancelled, STAR students are finding new ways to meet the needs of members of our community who rely on the services provided by STAR groups and their volunteering partner organisations such as English conversation clubs, youth groups, and social events.
There are many things about the UK asylum system and life in the UK for refugees that could mean they are considerably affected by social distancing measures put in place. People seeking asylum are not allowed to work and have to live off around £5 a day. Many people seeking asylum in the UK are alone and family reunion laws for those with refugee status are very restrictive. In the current situation, many refugees and asylum seekers are even more isolated.
Northampton STAR volunteers reconnected with young learners from their L2L English conversation club over Zoom where they caught up on how everyone is doing, shared jokes and practiced their English. It didn’t end there as the teachers became the leaners and attempted to pronounce the days of the week in Arabic which had everyone in fits of laughter.
To everyone who attended, the conversation club is more than just a space to learn or teach, it is a place to make new friends, interact with other young people and socialise while also learning English in a non-judgemental environment.
Natasha, the president of Northampton STAR said: “It was really great to see everyone, it added a sense of normality to be able to continue despite the circumstances”.
The virtual gathering was such a success that learners are keen to invite their friends to join the next one. It was a hit with the volunteers as well who are now working on setting up similar virtual gatherings to do fun activities to show that you can be apart and still together.
Kent STAR organised a virtual screening of For Sama, the BAFTA award-winner for Best Documentary this year. The documentary is an honest portrayal of the female experience of war captured by Waad Al-Kateab during the uprising in Aleppo, Syria.
The screening was a big hit, with other STAR groups joining in with their friends and family members at home and taking part in a WhatsApp group discussion after the screening about the issues portrayed in it.
Goldsmiths STAR recently launched the first issue of their magazine EKO written by volunteers and people with lived experience and published in both English and Arabic.
The first issue aptly covered stories on new beginnings from people with lived experience, volunteers and activists. They launched it at a successful event last month. EKO will be going digital with their second issue soon so watch this space for updates.
Glasgow STAR donated £400 worth of food parcels and toiletries to their volunteering partner Maslow’s Community Shop, an organisation that supports destitute asylum seekers, runs English conversation classes and is now delivering food parcels and toiletries to people in the community. STAR Glasgow has also donated £200 worth of phone credits that will be given people to people seeking asylum to help them stay connected during this difficult time.
They are also continuing their work with MORE – Migrants Organising for Rights & Empowerment to make access to Higher Education better for people seeking asylum. Glasgow STAR and MORE have an ongoing petition to get Glasgow university to scrap the £275 fee required per short access course in order to gain entry to the university at undergraduate level.
Online Actions you can take now
We are proud of all the hard work STARs are doing to support people in their community especially those seeking refuge in the UK and here are several ways you can also help wherever you are:
– Petition to increase support for asylum seekers
– Sign and share this petition asking for asylum seekers to have the right to work.
– Add your name to JCWI’s open letter to the government
– Sign this EMERGENCY PETITION calling the government to protect people in immigration detention from COVID-19
See this article to find out what else you can do.
We are in this together.