Several university societies have collaborated to launch Southampton Refugee Month, a series of events happening throughout November.
Southampton Refugee Month was designed to raise awareness of the current refugee crisis, which according to the UN has left 65 million people displaced. By hosting a variety of events, the societies involved aim to inspire students to learn more, get engaged and to volunteer or campaign.
Planned events include a film screening, poetry night, bake sale and donation stall. The bake sale will raise money for the British Red Cross, while donations of warm clothes, shoes, blankets and tents made at the stall will be sent directly to refugees through local refugee solidarity group Soton2Calais.
Zein Gowie, president of Medsin and one of the event organisers, told Wessex Scene:
The event will give students an idea of what everyday life in a camp is like and to fundamentally raise awareness of the poor conditions that these refugees live in. We’ve brought in speakers who have volunteered/are volunteering with refugees around the world to do this.
Secondly, we hope that this knowledge will empower students to try and make a difference, whether that be via empowering and educating others or actually going to refugee camps and volunteering there. The event is also a reminder that these refugees are still people and don’t deserve to be forgotten about and dehumanised.
There will also be opportunities to be further informed about the current situation faced by refugees. The Refugee Reality discussion panel, which will be chaired by the founder of Soton2Calais and medical student at Southampton, Ilaf Moslawy, will discuss this.
Speakers at the event will include Dr Sarah Alhulail (a Doctor currently volunteering in Greece), Waqar Shah (a student who recently completed a UNHCR internship at a refugee camp), London Labour councillor Ali Hashem, a resident of Eastern Aleppo, and an expert on the ecological reasons for migration.
There will also be a training session about refugees’ right to healthcare. The session, which is aimed at medical students, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals but open to all, will focus on the barriers faced by refugees when accessing NHS healthcare and how to identify victims of trafficking.
Southampton Refugee Month was organised by Soton2Calais, Middle Eastern and North African Society, Medsin, Worldview, British Red Cross, Amnesty Society. The initiative is supported by Union Southampton and student groups including Students for Palestine, Dabke Society, Southampton Action, Islamic Society, Lebanese Society, Languages Society, Unicef, Doctors of the World, Labour Society, Farm Africa Society, Feminist Society, Friends of MSF, Marxist Society, Pakistan Society, Asian Society, Tamil Society, and Erasmus Student Network Southampton.
More information is available on the event Facebook page.