What is Solidaritee and what do we do?
Solidaritee is the largest student run charity in the UK and is working to promote refugee rights and implement legal aid for refugees and asylum seekers in camps. We believe this to be the most empowering form of aid we can offer for many individuals fleeing their homes. The millions of asylum seekers traveling to Europe is often termed the “Migrant or Refugee crisis”. In fact, the word crisis is politically misdirected in referring to the “swarms” of people arriving, rather than the problems forcing people to flee, and the failure of European states to provide the necessary resources and asylum. Therefore, the charity works to support NGOs in order to help overcome logistical issues that are currently pressing, specifically the provision of legal aid which is currently highly inaccessible. Indeed, “the refugee crisis” is not a problem of too many people, but a political problem, both in their need to migrate, and the failure of developed states to provide the aid and resources that are required by law. Solidaritee focuses on the latter issue, whilst raising awareness about the first.
Asylum is a legal right; the question is not about whether “we want” migrants in our country.
Solidaritee is made up of multiple teams of volunteers in Universities across the country who sell ‘Solidaritees’ (t-shirts designed by asylum seekers) to raise money and awareness for the cause, alongside running multiple fundraising and awareness events.
This year Solidaritee is supporting 6 NGOs through grants working in 4 different locations: Thessaloniki, and the islands of Lesvos, Samos, and Chios. These will be funding qualified experts in legal aid and translation services.
Why do I volunteer for Solidaritee?
Across the world, the inequality of living standards, which force people to migrate to safer, more comfortable regions or countries, coupled with the anti-immigrant nationalistic rhetoric of countries to which migrants flee, is a massive political and cultural issue that resonates with me. How, and why, do people have the power to determine who “belongs” where? This right to belong is informed by my interest in the concept of bordering and the “border spectacle”, a discourse that generates themes of inclusion and exclusion, and the political stakes of such divisions and national discourse, which reflects upon the impact for individual migrants. Solidaritee is the beginning of my work in decentring power dynamics so that marginalised individuals can access greater agency.
What is the Solidaritee Week of Action?
For 7 days, Solidaritee will be working to promote the cause of our charity, and fundraising as much as possible. Collective action is an important method in raising awareness across the intersections of society during a focused period of time. Throughout the week, there will be a variety of events and the largest collaboration of students working together, taking their own stand in Solidaritee with refugees.
When is the week of Action?
1-7th of February; Save the date! Make sure to look out for our events and fundraising opportunities, as well as taking part in the day of Solidaritee by wearing your own Solidaritee on the 1st of February.
What have the KCL team been up to last term?
Last term team KCL were very busy. We managed to raise a lot of money through the selling of t-shirts. We also ran some great events in collaboration with societies at KCL, such as Yoga, book club and pub quizzes!
Our big fundraising activity was with the Syrian Chef, Majeda Khouri. We had a great live cooking lesson with her, making a traditional Syrian dish, and it sure went down a treat!
What is team KCL up to in the future?
This term, we will be working in collaboration with many sports teams at KCL in a sponsored run/walk/cycle. We will divide up the distance between teams and aim to achieve it collaboratively, recognising the distances that refugees themselves have to take when fleeing their homes.
We will also be running a conference in order to raise awareness of some of the issues surrounding the refugee crisis, the ways it is being addressed, and understanding the lives of individuals who have to take such life threatening journeys.
What can you do?
Just by being open-minded and having conversations about the causes Solidaritee are supporting is a great start! You can also go ahead and purchase a Solidaritee from me so you can join the thousands of students on the day of Solidaritee (message @jasminarciero on Instagram). Look out for our fundraising and awareness raising events and be sure to get involved in whatever way you can, either by donating, or by taking part.