By Lucy Parkinson
It’s that time of year again – STAR (Student Action for Refugees) are back with our annual music event Refugee Rhythms, taking place on the Thursday February 25th from 8pm-2am. Join us for a night of dancing to live music and eating food from all around the world. This year promises to be our biggest event yet as we have been able to change our venue to Y Plas in the Students’ Union. Tickets are only £5 and are available on the Students’ Union website as well as being available on the door.
We’re ecstatic to welcome Afro Cluster back to headline our event, with their afro-funk hip-hop sound. Bass 12 are also going to be providing plenty of brilliant music to groove to, with their own brand of street brass/riot jazz. Long-term volunteer Larry Black said “We’re all really looking forward to the event as previous years’ Refugee Rhythms have always been roaring successes and a great time has been had by all.”
As well as Refugee Rhythms and the drop-in, we also regularly go for dinner after drop-in (so much falafel) as well as hold events such as our Peace Feast, where we gather together to eat a meal and celebrate refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff. Peace Feast is taking place on the Sunday February 21st, in the Cathays Community Centre (on Cathays Terrace). This is our fourth year of running the event, in association with Bridges for Communities. “Peace Feasts are a really lovely way to meet lots of people in the community that you might not usually have the chance to sit around a table with to share a meal,” said STAR’s Secretary Lizzie Robertson.
Student Action for Refugees has been running as a society within Cardiff University for the past eight or nine years. We meet (at least) once a week to provide a student-led service to Asylum Seekers and Refugees, in the form of one-to-one conversation classes and a drop-in with tea and biscuits. If you want to come along and join us in doing so, please do! We are always looking for new volunteers to teach English or even just hang out with people, play table tennis and chat.
You do not need to have any experience teaching English, in fact, most of us don’t have any experience apart from the experience we have gained through STAR. We provide all of the teaching materials – unless of course you want to bring something to talk to someone about such as a newspaper. The sessions are on a Wednesday evening from 5pm – 7.30pm in the Trinity Centre on Piercefield Place off Newport Road. New volunteer Sam Alexander tells us “STAR has given me the opportunity to use my skills to help people who need it, it’s been fantastic for everyone involved, 10/10 would recommend coming!”
We are always really keen to get new volunteers involved in the planning and putting on events and if this seems like something you’d like to do, just let us know and we can invite you onto one of our subcommittees based around events or English teaching. We usually welcome between 80 and 100 asylum seekers and refugees to our drop-in each week and on a good week we have around 70 volunteers who turn up to teach. We are extremely passionate about providing this service to people seeking asylum and Refugees in Cardiff, as we’re often told by people that they really appreciate having a place where they can come and feel welcome.
According to STAR’s Campaigns Officer Tess Eeles (who is also President of Hope Not Hate Society – check them out too!), “volunteering with STAR is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done with my time at Cardiff University.” Campaigning is one of the most important aspects of STAR, with our history of having campaigned for Equal Access to University for Asylum Seekers, who otherwise would have to pay international fees, which combined with the financial hardship asylum seekers often face means that university is not an option. We’re also campaigning against destitution with a sponsored sleep-out to raise money for destitute asylum seekers, which everyone is welcome to join us in doing!
Keep up to date with STAR’s goings-on and join us as a society on the union website as well as joining our Facebook page “Cardiff STAR (Student Action for Refugees)”. Don’t miss out!