Warwick STAR Event: 'Volunteer Experiences in Europe'
On Tuesday, February 7th, Warwick STAR (Student Action for Refugees) organised a panel discussion pertaining to ‘Volunteering Experiences: Responding to the Refugee Crisis in Europe’. This event set out to convey the multifarious approaches to humanitarian and social aid in wake of the current refugee crisis. With continuing news of border closing, such as the Dubs amendment – publicised just a day after this event – there comes an ever increasing need to explore the different responses available outside of the UK. All media oriented perceptions were side-lined by dialogue that tracked individual experiences in three nations: France, Greece and the Netherlands; lasting from a period of one week to nine months.
Despite the diversity expressed in the event as a whole, there were resounding similarities contained in the findings of each speaker. Questions from the audience helped to solidify this insight. The tension between large-scale organisations and grassroots NGOs was one point of reflection after the main presentation. Another question focused on the problem of continuing this sort of work for long periods considering the unpaid nature. As is the case in Greece, the immediate locality has undergone issues with tourism, leaving many hotels well below capacity and available for volunteers to use. In the case of other speakers, host families and live-in options at the camp were also possible – exemplifying the means by which these experiences are possible to undertake.
All speakers (Nina Jackowski, Thomas Greenway, Victor Beaume, Desiree Stewart and Catherine Holbrook) are connected to the Warwick STAR programme that works to raise awareness, campaign and practically support refugees in the surrounding area through a mixture of regular workshops and specially organised occasions. The adjoining articles however go into more detail on the sorts of experiences had by each speaker.
A list of helpful pointers is compiled here for those wanting to know more about particular organisations or about volunteering for NGOs involved in aiding the refugee crisis more generally. Some of the speakers also have their own projects through which they wish to raise money – from tea parties funding tea distribution in Lesvos, to long distance running in aid of communal garden projects in the Netherlands.