Kate, Warwick STAR president is pictured.

3 June 2020

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. Kate shares her volunteering experience as part of our blog series for Volunteers’ Week 2021.

Since volunteering with STAR and our local partner, I have learnt so much about refugees and asylum seekers. It is empowering to see the change you can make in your local area, and it is a brilliant way to meet such wonderful volunteers and participants.

STAR initially stood out to me because not only is it one of the biggest volunteering societies on campus, but you also have the opportunity to directly volunteer with and get to know refugees and asylum seekers in your community. I’m involved in the Warwick conversation club, where we help participants learn and practice their English.

Making a difference

Before volunteering with STAR, I knew a bit about the difficulties that refugees and asylum seekers faced, but now I’m more aware and feel empowered to aid those in need. I’m extremely passionate about helping refugees and asylum seekers and raising awareness of the issues and barriers they face. Our STAR group has held awareness-raising events online. Our speakers have included Lord Dubs and Gulwali Passarlay, the author of The Lightless Sky: My Journey to Safety as a Child.

Despite the challenges faced due to Covid-19, we have still been able to work together to make a difference. We’ve managed to hold fundraising events such as an open mic night which went really well and showcased many talents! Rohan, one of our executive members, came up with the idea of starting a blog. We’ve called it Najoom, meaning ‘star’ in Arabic, as many of the refugees we work with speak Arabic as their first language. It has explored many themes such as identity, family, music, dreams and more. It has been a great platform for volunteers to get involved and we have seen some incredible work.

Learning from conversations

Recently, I have been co-running and participating in the conversation café, run in collaboration with Mi Friendly Cities. This is a much more relaxed conversation class where we speak about a variety of colloquial topics. I’ve also been involved in the homework club we started nearly two years ago – it’s super helpful for young people whose parents speak little or no English. Volunteering with STAR and meeting new people has taught me to be more aware and mindful of other people’s experiences.

Kate is a second-year history student at the University of Warwick. She is Co-President of Warwick STAR.

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