18 February 2023

On February 18th, STAR leaders and Equal Access activists came together in London for our AGM and national meetup – STAR’s first in-person event since 2019. The day was busy, packed with plenty of guest speakers, enriching workshops and networking with people from 17 different STAR groups from across the UK!

The day started with networking and icebreakers; STAR members discussed their successes and challenges from the past year, with the former largely outweighing the latter! We also took the opportunity to write some Words of Welcome for people seeking asylum in the UK. #TogetherWithRefugees.

The day continued with two thought-provoking workshops: Migrants Rights delivered a Words Matter workshop, which explored the ramifications of how certain language shapes narratives around migration and migratised communities.

“It was really useful to think of the impact of our ‘positive’ language, rather than just the explicitly harmful government rhetoric!”

Coram Young Citizens presented the impact of the UK asylum system on young people, with speakers from refugee backgrounds sharing their experiences of going through the asylum system as teenagers and young adults.

“I really enjoyed getting the chance to hear people’s stories from so close to home + increase our empathy and outlook”

Our guests from Ice and Fire theatre acted out Asylum Monologues, a collection of first-hand accounts of asylum seekers’ experiences of the UK asylum system, which left all of us deeply moved. After the performance, some STAR members invited them to perform at their university.

“It felt really powerful – humanising stories of the asylum system”

During our AGM we celebrated the dedication and achievements of STAR groups, including Bristol STAR who have supported over 100 learners through their conversation classes and Birmingham STAR who have raised over £1500 for STAR National so far this year! From large groups running lots of events, to smaller groups just starting up, we celebrated every STAR leader making a difference and contributing to STAR’s mission of creating a more welcoming place for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. STAR groups then voted to elect our newest Student Trustee – congratulations to Shreeja from Bath STAR!

To launch STAR’s Campaign Action Week, Campaigns Manager Siobhan presented the focus of this year’s campaign, Lift the Ban, calling for the government to grant refugees the right to work while seeking asylum. STAR groups practised their pitch to convince local businesses to support the High Street challenge, and we ended the day with a photo shoot: attendees wrote down their dream job, which they would not be able to pursue if they were seeking asylum 

Thank you all for coming to this year’s AGM and meetup! We hope you had a great time meeting fellow STAR members. It was amazing to see STAR groups and Equal Access activists coming together to network and exchange ideas. A huge thank you also to the guest speakers and workshop leaders, we all went away feeling inspired and energised to take action to welcome refugees! See you next year!

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