Edinburgh STAR partners with local organisations both in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the aim of connecting students with opportunities to volunteer with or on behalf of refugee and asylum seekers in their local communities.
If you are interested in volunteering with STAR please send our volunteer coordinator (Janine) an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively fill out our short online questionnaire: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Q28FLC7
Below is a list of the organisations that we are currently working with.
- The Welcoming Association (Edinburgh Based)
The Welcoming Association brings together refugees, asylum seekers and people from Scottish and local minority ethnic communities. The aim is to welcome newcomers, learn together and improve English language and literacy skills. The project supports new migrants to get to know the local culture through outings, music, drama, visual arts and talks. There are visits from service providers in law, housing, employment and education.
The Welcoming aims to be a one-stop gateway for migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, European and non-European nationals who are seeking to settle, integrate and contribute to the culture, heritage and economy of Edinburgh and its local communities.
STAR have connected students with the opportunity to volunteer on an individual basis at The Welcoming and we are currently working on a collaboration project, which will hopefully begin in the new year.
2. The Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers (Glasgow Based)
The Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers began in December 2011. Since then its has been providing somewhere safe and warm to stay overnight for people, who because of their immigration status (either they have been refused asylum or they are non-EU migrants), cannot access normal homeless services.The night shelter provides a hot meal and somewhere safe to stay for up to 15 men every night, 365 nights a year, including Christmas Day and New Years.This group of people face multiple difficulties; often unable to speak English; without any family or friends who can help them; unable to do paid work; with an insecure immigration status; not knowing their rights and often scared to draw attention to their plight for fear of coming to the attention of the authorities, they are blocked from accessing any support that is funded by public money.
STAR have recently started sending groups of volunteers over to the shelter in Glasgow to help out with the evening services offered. Typically volunteers arrive at the shelter for 8pm, assisting with the cooking of the evening meal/other activities, stay overnight and then assisting with the serving of breakfast until the next morning when they leave at 8am.We are also working on setting up group projects run by our STAR volunteers, which will hopefully being in the new year.
3. The Refugee Survival Trust (Glasgow Based)
The Refugee Survival Trust is a charity that provides grants to asylum claimants and refugees living in Scotland. It was set up in 1996 by a number of concerned individuals as a reaction to the problem of refugees and asylum claimants being made destitute in Scotland. Grants made by RST either alleviate poverty and destitution, or help refugees and asylum claimants to overcome obstacles in accessing educational and employment opportunities.Volunteer opportunities include talk ambassadors (giving talks in schools and for community groups about asylum issues), grant researchers, fundraisers, admin assistants.The RST are also currently looking for someone who is experienced in website design and has the necessary skills to invest time over a month or two and overhaul their website.
4. Re-Act Refugee Action Scotland – originally CalAid Edinburgh (Edinburgh Based)
Re-Act, Refugee Action Scotland, is a volunteer run, Not-For-Profit, Humanitarian Aid Co-operative launched in response to the growing refugee crisis. Re-Act are part of an expanding organisation throughout the UK, working to fundraise and collect vital donations to transport to the refugee camps throughout crisis areas of Europe. Re-Act are doing an amazing job processing and shipping off donations that they have been receiving from residents in Edinburgh and the surrounding area. They are currently taking on volunteers to help with collecting, sorting and packing the donations for transportation.
STAR are currently working in collaboration with their newly formed university group, to connect students with opportunities to volunteer on a regular basis.
5. Scottish Detainee Visitors (Dungavel – South of Glasgow)
Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre is the only detention centre in Scotland. It is located approximately 1 hour south of Glasgow and can hold up to 250 detainees at any one time. These may be people who have arrived in the UK to seek asylum, have overstayed the terms of their work or student visa or have entered the country illegally. In theory the government says that people should not be detained except in very exceptional circumstances. However, detention is more common than it needs to be and once detained there is no legal limit on how long a person may be kept inside. Understandably, the stress and uncertainty of detention, in addition to unfamiliarity with the language or legal system often results in feelings of isolation and depression amongst detainees.
Scottish Detainee Visitors is a registered charity that visits Dungavel on Monday and Thursday evenings to provide emotional support and friendship to the detainees. Transport is provided from central Glasgow to Dungavel, so volunteers just have to be able to get themselves to Glasgow. There is also a group of volunteers that drives through from Edinburgh, so depending on your availability, you might be able to get a lift with them. .
This video gives a great idea of the impact you can have as a visitor to people in detention.