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Amnesty Soc is the student led Southampton chapter of Amnesty International. They meet weekly to discuss human rights issues in Britain and around the world and organise fundraisers throughout the year. Last year their main focus was on raising money and awareness for the Calais Refugees. This campaign included a sponsored sleep out and a live music event, both of which were very successful. They regularly discuss subjects such as the international arms trade, torture, abortion rights, LGBT and women’s rights topics and prisoners of conscience. Amnesty Soc are a regular presence at local demonstrations and marches. They also travel to the Amnesty International AGM in London every year and hold regular socials.
I joined Amnesty Soc after participating in the sleepout for the Refugee Campaign and immediately felt welcomed into the group. I found the society to be a small friendly bunch who were passionate about social justice and human rights. I interviewed two of my fellow committee members to get their perspective on what goes on in AmnestySoc and what to expect upon joining the society.
First of all…how would you explain what goes on at Amnesty Society for those who haven’t heard of the organisation?
Rosie: Amnesty is an international organisation that focuses on human rights violations across the world, they fight these violations through writing letters, raising money and often through protest marches. At Soton Amnesty we meet every week and every three weeks we organise an event (stall, film showing etc) to highlight and raise money for a chosen topic.
James: We have regular meetings where we discuss issues related to human rights such as: women’s rights, government totalitarianism and free speech. We tend to pick particularly topics, such as the death penalty, and work on that topic for a while. We decide what we want to do as a group before we do anything.
What should you expect when you come to an Amnesty meeting?
Rosie: We spend a lot of time being creative, making t-shirts, leaflets, banners and posters etc. Everyone is super friendly, so even if you come by yourself for your first time you are immediately put at ease! We focus mainly on brainstorming ways to broadcast our chosen topic to the student population so many of our sessions involve bouncing ideas of each other so everyone gets a voice.
James: Interesting and meaningful discussions. We normally have someone doing a presentation and then if we have time we debate the topic.
What kind of members are Amnesty looking to recruit this year?
Rosie: Everyone! I’m really excited to have a diverse group of student join this year, we want to recruit anyone who has a passion for fighting against human rights violation, enjoys volunteering and anyone who has a strong opinion on issues such as rape culture, torture or wants to raise money for refugees. Even someone who just wants to come along to see what we do at our Amnesty meetings is fully welcome!
James: People who have a keen interest in human rights campaigning. We also wouldn’t mind a few more artistically creative person to help with making placards.
What are the benefits of being an Amnesty member?
Rosie: Being part of Amnesty is very rewarding, you are often involved in helping breakdown harmful stereotypes and helping to raise money for charity is the best feeling; as you know that all the work you have put into raising awareness will make a different and help people.
James: Gaining a wider knowledge of human rights issues facing people around the world and knowing that you’re making a difference by doing activism and raising money.
Is there a pattern in the type of subject Amnesty Members usually study?
Rosie: I think most members are in the humanities but
we have lots from the sciences as well so there’s not a consistent pattern.
Where and when does Amnesty Soc meet?
Rosie: We will be holding our first social on the 5th of October to welcome any incoming freshers and our first official meeting on October 12th in 58/1039.
Does Amnesty Soc have much of a social side?
Rosie: Yes definitely, we had a few socials last year and will hopefully have more this year coming!
James: We do and we definitely hope to continue that this year. Nights out to Jesters and Sobar, pub crawls, scoops/sprinkles trips and anything else which would be a good time
Sum up an amnesty social in three words?
Rosie: Friendly, rewarding and creative.
James: Interesting, rewarding and activism.