Meet SolidariTee Lancaster: The fundraising team helping to provide legal aid for refugees
‘We want to stand in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers’
One of the great things about studying at Lancaster is the continuing influx of new societies and clubs for students to get involved in. From Soup Soc to Swift Soc, you’ll never be short of choices to fill your spare time, and there’ll always be a bake sale or two on in Alexandra Square for you to support. We recently spoke to a relatively new charity society: Lancaster SolidariTee, a small team of Lancs students who fundraise to assist refugees with acquiring legal aid.
SolidariTee was established by a Cambridge University student who used their student loan to make and sell T-shirts and then donated the money to charities that supply legal aid to refugees.
Today, SolidariTee has branched out into smaller university teams, including our very own here in Lancaster. We spoke to the students who make up the team regarding their passion for the cause, and their future plans for fundraising.
‘The team here at Lancaster is full of lovely individuals who are all passionate about the cause’
SolidariTee Lancaster is made up of four third-year Lancaster Uni students: Isobel, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Kara, who “are all passionate about the cause”. The name ‘SolidariTee’ refers to their belief in standing in “solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers who are going through the hardship of applying for refugee status”, and the T-shirts through which they raise the majority of their funds. T-shirts cost between £10-12, and when you make a purchase of £12, “£8 of this goes to supplying legal aid to refugees.”
‘SolidariTee’s main aim is to supply legal aid to refugees who need it’
SolidariTee supplies legal aid and assist with the legal process of attaining refugee status, something which is “extremely taxing and traumatic.” When speaking to us, these students described how “it can take years for people to go through this process and after it all, they can find out they’ve been rejected. This is especially hard when the legal documents will more often than not be in a language they don’t speak.”
Lancaster SolidariTee sees legal aid as a “long-term solution.” A lot of the money raised by them is used in Greece to provide “caseworkers, lawyers, and translators to try and help ease the process and boost successful application rates.”
‘People having to relive and explain their experiences many times in court is deeply stressful’
As well as working to facilitate legal aid for refugees, Lancaster SolidariTee plans to stress the importance of psychological support during this time, as “people having to relive and explain their experiences many times in court is deeply stressful and can contribute to, and worsen, their reaction to the trauma.”
The team wishes to bring further awareness to mental health, as “these individuals who have already suffered enough to get to a safe country are now being thrown in the deep end of a legal battle with no legal or mental health support.”
‘You don’t have to become part of the team to help, you can simply buy a T-shirt’
The best way for students to get involved with this campaign is by simply buying a T-shirt, where “with the money from just that one sale, you’ve funded a full-time caseworker for a day.”
SolidariTee Lancaster also sells posters to promote slow-fashion practices, costing £10, and either of these items can be purchased here in Lancaster. Their T-shirts are also “carbon neutral and vegan/cruelty-free so while you’re helping change the lives of persecuted people, you can also help the environment!”
The students behind Lancaster SolidariTee would also welcome support by spreading awareness of the issue, and by attending future events they are planning such as “talks and panel discussions with the academic societies as well as more low-key events such as small bake sales outside the library.” They’re also planning to run a stall for the Christmas markets on campus, and “are working in collaboration with other charities on campus to plan a charity ball for next term.”