We have had a great first semester here at Edinburgh STAR and hope you have too. Here is a brief summary of what we have been up to in the last few months, with more information to follow about the new semester very soon.
December 2015 – Christmas Toiletries Donations Drive
Following our eye-opening experience volunteering at the centre for destitute asylum seekers in Glasgow, STAR will be collecting donations for the men who use the service. Suitable items that can be donated include unused toiletries such as deodorant, shower gel, disposable razors and shaving cream. We will also be taking donations of new mens socks, underwear and gloves. There are three boxes around campus where you can donate your items until the 14th December.
Old College – Kenyon Mason Suite (basement)
Chrystal MacMillan Building (main reception)
Drummond Street (Geogsoc cafe)
We will be having a stress-busting Christmas wrapping session where we’ll package all the items for the centre – details to follow soon. Please give generously!
26th November 2015 – Fundraising Ceilidh for the Refugee Survival Trust
We had a great time dancing the night away with other societies including the Amnesty International Society and UNICEF on Campus in aid of The Refugee Survival Trust. RST is a great charity that supports asylum claimants and refugees in the UK by providing them with small grants to alleviate poverty and to remove barriers to education and employment. We are delighted to say that the event raised a fantastic £1628.81 which will benefit the work of the RST hugely – thank you so much to everyone who attended!
23rd November 2015 – Volunteering at the Unity Centre, Glasgow
The STAR committee and volunteers all had a great and insightful time volunteering at the Unity Centre night shelter for destitute asylum seekers in Glasgow over the last two weekends.The night shelter provides safe accommodation, an evening meal and breakfast for non-EU migrants who are not entitled to other accommodation. Our volunteers got stuck in cooking the evening meals, passing out mattresses, washing dishes and chatting to those staying at the shelter.
12th November 2015 – Progress for Asylum Seekers at Edinburgh University!
We’re delighted that the University of Edinburgh has decided to exempt asylum seekers from paying international tuition fees, which they have been required to do so far. Under the new rules, they will be classed as domestic Scottish students and will pay £1,800 per year instead of the £14,000 yearly international fee. You can read the full details here. Progress at last!
1st November 2015 – Students without Borders Event: Responding to the Refugee Crisis
We held a really exciting event in collaboration with Edinburgh International Development Society, Engineers without Borders, UNICEF on Campus and Edinburgh friends of MSF. Emily Crowley the deputy director of Student Action for Refugees was a guest speaker, along with Dr Steve Kirkwood, activist Pinar Aksu and Jon Busby, project director of the welcoming association. Following initial presentations about the key challenges faced by organisations and individuals in the wake of the refugee crisis, attendees split off into facilitated discussion groups to brainstorm how we as students can contribute and help in these situations. Check out this great video of the event to see how Edinburgh University students are responding to the current refugee crisis.
19th October 2015 – Guest Lecture and Letter Writing
At our last meeting the University of Edinburgh’s very own Professor Sharon Cowan gave a hugely informative talk about the legal framework of the asylum system and why so many refugees and asylum seekers are currently destitute throughout the UK, unable to meet their basic needs such as food and shelter. This was followed by a letter writing session where we wrote to our local MPs to urge them to take action on this important issue and advocate for greater support for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. We also had a bake sale which raised £55 for the Refugee Survival Trust, an organisation that fights destitution by providing small grants to vulnerable refugees. You can read more about their great work here.
14th October 2015 – STAR Outside the Library
An enormous thank you to everyone who showed their support for STAR today outside the library! You can see all the photos and tag yourself by visiting our Facebook page here.
1st October 2015 – Documentary Film Screening
We were delighted to see so many people at our screening of the documentary ‘Europe or Die’ about the refugee crisis that is unfolding across Europe. We also had a volunteering information session where we talked a little bit about the opportunities and partnerships that our lovely volunteer coordinator Janine has been developing with refugee organisations in and around Edinburgh. For more details about these see here.
It was great to meet and chat with so many of you who are keen to take positive action to improve the lives of refugees and asylum seekers. Keep your eyes peeled for details of our next event – a guest lecture about asylum seeker destitution followed by a letter writing session.
14th September 2015 – Students Without Borders Fair
It was great to meet some of you at the Students Without Borders event today and chat about how as students we can help refugees in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK. We will be flyering outside the societies fair this week – pop by and say hello. Have a great freshers and we look forward to welcoming you to our first events!
13th September 2015 – Syria Vigil
Thanks to everyone who made it down to the ‘Edinburgh sees Syria’ vigil and march at the Parliament on Saturday evening, despite the chilly weather. We hope to be seeing more of your lovely faces over the coming weeks. Look out for us on campus! #weseeyou #geteducatedgetinvolved