Guest post: Meet Pam, an activist in exile and one of our new 2019 Refugee Week Ambassadors

Pam

Pam at the STAR office, promoting badges from #LiftTheBan campaign with colleagues

I was granted refugee status in the UK at the end of 2018, having waited for two years for my asylum application to be approved. During that time I was unable to work while my application was pending. Thankfully, STAR (Student Action For Refugees) offered me an opportunity to be part of the team, in the position of  Communication and Campaign Volunteer Officer.

I remember feeling very overwhelmed when I started my first day at the office. But I never tire of working with STAR because I truly believe the work I do has a profound impact on people, helping them have a better life.

My involvement with STAR changed my perception of the UK as a hostile environment. I’ve felt so inspired by their work and also other organisation like Amnesty International, the Refugee Council and many more for their work, creating campaigns and raising awareness, to change the minds of people who may not necessarily be interested in migration issues.

As a Communication and Campaign Volunteer Officer, I support the delivery of STAR’s national campaigns to improve the welcome people from refugee backgrounds. My role is to communicate with students across the UK and encourage them to support the cause. This is such an amazing moment to see how so many students in the UK are willing to help people who may have seemed different and distant from them. As part of my  support to these student groups running campaigns,  I am required to survey their campaigns and collate these outcomes into a report. Personally, this has given me so much experience in verbal and written communication; as well as administrative skills.

One of my highlights was earlier this year, in February 2019, when I got involved in running the 2019 National STAR annual Action Week in support of #FamiliesTogether campaign. Groups all over the UK took part in actions to encourage their MPs to support the Refugee Family Reunion Bill. During this campaign, I was sent to help groups of students campaign at their university campus, where I learned how to communicate and educate and change people’s mind to be supportive of the campaign. The highlight was getting to work in a team of passionate and like minded students. It was an experience I’ll always remember.

Some people might be aware that the aim of STAR is to raise awareness and develop national campaigns in support of people from refugee backgrounds in the UK, Europe and beyond. But in fact, STAR’s work is much more than that! With STAR I have been able to connect with thousands of students and it has made me more determined to continue my higher education.

My colleagues are so supportive and I feel so lucky to have had their support. They have guided me with their knowledge and shown their help for everything I do – especially with my application for my Master’s degree.

I now have a chance to continue my higher education because STAR has inspired me.

Group ambassadors 2019

Pam with some of her fellow Refugee Week 2019 Ambassadors.

Click here for more information about STAR, and find out how you can volunteer like Pam and get involved with their work.