Power of Youth Day is a national celebration of youth social action that takes part during Volunteers’ Week – so today is a double celebration for us. This week we want to shine a spotlight on the incredible young people who are part of STAR, many of whom have lived refugee experience, and the action they take to make the UK a more welcoming place for refugees and people seeking asylum – something that is so important right now. 

As a student-led movement, young people drive change at STAR – our network of 34 groups has thousands of members and is led by over 200 student leaders! STAR groups campaign for change at the local and national level, run volunteering projects in their local communities and put on events to help their peers better understand the reality of life for people forced to flee their homes and seek sanctuary. Here are just some of the ways young people have taken action this year…


STAR groups have worked with local partner organisations across the country to help deliver 27 local volunteering projects in solidarity with refugees! STAR groups help run a huge range of initiatives, from English conversation clubs, First Aid training sessions and football practice to bike refurbishment schemes, donation drives and youth clubs. Here is a just a taste of the many amazing projects out there! 

  • Birmingham STAR orgnanised conversation clubs, film nights and a women’s club for people who are being housed in local hotels.
  • Cambridge STAR launched a new chatty cafe for women from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
  • Warwick Medical School STAR ran first aid training sessions for local refugees in partnership with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.
  • And to see what it is all about for yourself – check out this great video from Cardiff STAR

It’s so nice to have created a community where people are always happy and excited to come and learn and invite their friendsConversation Club Volunteer, Glasgow STAR

“The project is very beautiful”  – participant in Nottingham STAR’s Conversation Club for women

We also continue to run our university application peer mentoring programme online – this year 58 students mentored 76 university and scholarship applicants as part of STAR’, helping people seeking asylum to access higher education.

“I loved that it was one to one, I was able to ask all my questions comfortably, my mentor was also very easy to communicate with and made everything clear. He also answered all my questions clearly and guided me on where to find them and shared his experience” Mentee

“I thought the mentoring was really well organised and we were well equipped with resources to be able to help mentees. I enjoyed the challenge of being pushed out of my comfort zone to do something I had never done before!” Peer mentor

Campaigning for change!

STAR groups across the country have been campaigning to make the UK a more welcoming place for people seeking asylum. This year we’ve been fighting the cruel anti refugee laws and pushing for change within our universities and local areas. Here are just a couple of things groups have been doing this year!

  • Sussex STAR have created a film investigating the housing crisis within the refugee community in Brighton.
  • Birmingham STAR successfully launched a policy that will see their Student Union lobby the university to provide more scholarships and increased support services for students from refugee backgrounds.
  • STAR groups across the country have joined the campaign calling for a Gaza Family Scheme to protect Palestinian lives and reunite Gazan families, held banner making sessions and attended demonstrations together and fundraised for Palestinian charities.

Fighting for the right for Equal Access to Higher Education!

STAR’s Equal Access Activists are campaigners with lived experience of accessing higher education while seeking asylum or with an insecure immigration status. This group of young people campaign for equal access to education for refugees and people seeking asylum. This year they have undertaken research with Sheffield University,  held workshops and information sessions to share advice and experiences to help others on their journey to higher education and are currently developing a new Equal Access strategy. They are also just about to welcome lots of new members!

Changing Minds

So far this year STAR groups have organised hundred of events to raise awareness about issues affecting people seeking asylum and shift the narrative around migration. Events like these…

  • Edinburgh STAR organised a panel event exploring the hierarchies and barriers within displacement, with speakers including Dr Debora Kayembe, rector of Edinburgh University, Jen Ang, founder of JustRight Scotland, and Dr George Palattiyil, Senior Lecturer in Forced Migration. 
  • Sheffield STAR held a panel discussion on the topic ‘Does Britain’s Migration System Respect Human Rights?’. Speakers included refugee activist Victor Mujakachi, journalist Siobhan McGuirch and Nabeela Talib from Detention Action.
  • Stirling STAR hosted an educational session on environmental justice for refugees, exploring the intersectionality of climate and migrant justice. 

Our Events Coordinator worked alongside Bristol Beacon to run the Be Kind Bristol event which had a really high turn out! The event was so special because it showcased artwork, music and more created by refugees and people seeking asylum and we were so pleased to be a part of the planning and running of the event’ Bristol STAR

Young people taking the lead! 

STAR’s student trustees have been representing the network on the board. Voted in by their peers this year three amazing student trustees, Mia, Max and Shreeja, have helped shaped the direction of STAR at trustee meetings, strategy workshops and on interview panels.

‘You get to have an impact on a national network by being a part of really important decisions and processes in collaboration with board members and staff’ Karolina, former STAR student trustee

Get involved & support us! 

Are you a student? Feeling inspired to take action? Find your local STAR group to find out how you can get involved or check out our Instagram @student_action_for_refugees to see what STAR groups have been up to.

Do you want to empower young people to make the UK a more welcoming place for refugees and asylum seekers? Support us today and help us equip our student groups and experts with the tools they need to build lasting change.

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