Durham students have launched a new design of this year’s SolidariTee campaign.
SolidariTee is a student led charity that seeks to raise awareness of the refugee crisis and offers grants to NGOs working with asylum seekers and refugees, through the sale of t-shirts.
The design on the new t-shirts symbolise hope, peace and safety, and were designed by Wahid Taraky, a calligrapher from Afghanistan currently living in Moria camp, Lesvos. The designs reflect his hope to find peace for him and his family in Europe.
The fundraising model is simple and effective. Student volunteers sell and deliver t-shirts around university towns, cutting out middle-man costs since the teams work remotely.
The idea was conceived by Cambridge student Tiara Sahar Ataii in early 2017 as a form of “silent protest.” Those wearing the t-shirts could see the wide range of support, while also making a tangible difference.
“Johnson’s Brexit bill is currently attempting to overturn the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK.”
Having begun as a solo effort, SolidariTee’s work has, within three years, mobilised 40 teams and 700 student volunteers, all working towards “a sustainable solution for the refugee crisis.”
In order to produce the t-shirts, SolidariTee uses ethical manufacturers, which have WRAP and OEKO-TEX certifications. The t-shirts cost £10 to buy, of which £8.41 goes directly to NGOs, and can be purchased on SolidariTee’s website, or by contacting student representatives.
Palatinate has spoken to Nichola Vo, a third year History student, who is SolidariTee’s Head Representative for Durham this year. She highlighted how much difference the money raised can make towards giving refugees and asylum seekers legal aid: “Just £4.50 covers one day’s expenses of a volunteer translator, who will see 30-40 asylum seekers per day.”
Vo argued that SolidariTees purpose was now as pertinent as ever, noting that “Johnson’s Brexit bill is currently attempting to overturn the right of unaccompanied child refugees to be reunited with their families in the UK.”
Tiara Sahar Ataii, the charity’s founder and executive director, who balances running SolidariTee with a languages degree, also argued that SolidariTee’s purpose was relevant because “people aren’t talking about it, but the refugee crisis still exists.”
She linked the refugee crisis to broader perceptions of “The nation state and territory,” pointing out that usually refugees are “running from the same enemies we talk about.”
She explained that “we were born in a safe country where we have access to safe water, justice and legal rights, so we almost have a debt to humanity to help refugees and extent these rights to others. If we didn’t have the perceptions we had, it’s unlikely there would be such a problem.”
“people aren’t talking about it, but the refugee crisis still exists.”
Vo highlighted several ways that students can get involved in SolidariTee. Firstly, they can buy t-shirts, which come in six sizes and three colours. Alternatively, they can join the SolidariTee team as a student representatives at: https://www.solidaritee.org.uk/join-us.
In addition, Vo is keen to build relationships with Durham societies, having already enjoyed successful collaborations with Bede Film Society, Laugh4Change and Durham for Refugees.
Images: Nailah Haque