Throughout the month of March, members of the Stirling’s Student Action for Refugee society (Stirling STAR) have been running, walking, cycling or swimming to reach a collective distance of 519 miles. They aim to raise money for the wider Student Action for Refugee (STAR) Network which campaigns for a greater level of support for asylum seekers and refugees.
Explaining the objectives of the STAR network, the President of Stirling STAR, Annabelle Schiele said, “STAR is a charity in the UK that advocates for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, including campaigning against family separation and detention centres, and for the access to higher education, healthcare and safer routes to the UK”.
Asked about why the society had selected 519 miles as the distance that the society would cover, Ronan Watkins, the society’s fundraising coordinator told Brig:
“We chose the distance of 519 miles (835 km) which is the equivalent of the journey from Calais to Stirling as we wanted to travel a distance that was relevant to our cause. The crossing of the channel from Calais is one many refugees and asylum seekers here in the U.K. are forced to make. This journey is often made in small boats and is incredibly dangerous. Asylum seekers and refugees risk everything to make it and this was something we couldn’t ignore when planning our first fundraiser. Our team have been doing an amazing job at running, walking and cycling this distance over the course of the month”.
The society has a JustGiving page which at the time of writing has raised over £500, reflecting on the support the society has received. The society’s treasurer, Freddie Peterson, said the society has received “loads of donations” and are “so grateful” for the support from others. Peterson described the ability to fundraise for the National Star network as “awesome”.
Hannah Carbery, the Student Network Assistant with STAR, described funding from individual donors as “really important” because it can be applied across a wide variety of objectives. Carbery highlighted that funds could be utilised for:
- Supporting the development of new student groups and the activities of current student groups (this could be freshers resources, zoom accounts for STAR groups, paying for training sessions or arranging workshops like campaign training or anti racism workshops),
- Supporting existing or helping to create new volunteering projects (e.g being able to cover basic materials, paying for ESOL tutors to support conversation clubs, acquiring DBS checks),
- Responding to enquiries from sanctuary scholars about how to access university or apply for scholarships,
- Expert advice to universities to help establish and maintain scholarships for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK,
- Events, outreach and resources to raise awareness of access to higher education opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum.
The society has previously raised funds for “Forth Valley Welcome” in a collaboration with others through the scheduling of language classes in December 2020.
Featured image credit: STAR society