Ahlen pictured at Glasgow Freshers fair.

1 June 2021

For Volunteers’ Week 2021, we are celebrating STAR leaders and their contribution to STAR volunteering projects across the UK. It has been a difficult year, but STAR leaders have volunteered their time to make a difference to the lives of refugees in the UK. Ahlen shares her volunteering experience as part of our blog series for Volunteers’ Week 2021.

This year, STAR’s projects have brought more people together than ever before, thanks to Zoom and our growing presence on social media. Glasgow STAR has demonstrated resilience, creativity, and adaptability to the current climate this year. To begin the year, we raised over £1000 for Maslow Community Shop, which provided food vouchers to refugees and asylum seekers during lockdown. Since then, we have been busy managing the English conversation club online and providing our learners with learning packs, Zoom access, smartphones and data.

Working together

Throughout the year:

  • Our Equal Access Officers have been working closely with the university, setting up a focus group to improve access to education for refugees, with the aim to become a University of Sanctuary.
  • Our Awareness Team is currently working on a project with people in the asylum system to help share their stories.
  • Our Fundraising Team has successfully launched our first Depop and Vinted, as well as raising £750 over our weekend 10k challenge event and £500 for our Christmas raffle.

It is nice to see our network growing. We have partnered with Glasgow’s organisations, charities, and societies at our university. In particular, we value our collaboration with Patrick Grady MP – STAR Glasgow has worked with Patrick on the Families Together Act since 2017. In February 2020, Patrick Grady presented our Keep Families Together petition to the House of Commons, and this year, he joined us for a compelling Zoom panel discussion on the situation of refugees in Glasgow during the pandemic.

Building friendships

Throughout my time at STAR, I have learned a lot about refugees and the challenges they face, as well as how resilient they can be in the face of adversity. Especially during the pandemic, I have realised how important a small project like our conversation club is for our refugee community. I value our time together each week, building friendships, and forming new bonds. Looking back, I am so proud of the work that STAR Glasgow and other STAR groups have done, and I look forward to many more events and volunteering projects in the future.

Ahlen Lavaro is a fourth year psychology student at the University of Glasgow. It is her third year volunteering with STAR, and is currently the Vice President of STAR Glasgow.

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