17 September 2015 - Support for Refugees
Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands outlines how the University and its staff and students can respond to the international refugee crisis.
I know that many of you will have already responded in your own way to the international migrant crisis, perhaps through a charitable donation or a volunteering opportunity. However, a significant number of students and staff have asked me how the University might itself play a part in responding to the current position. The University is after all an international institution with students and staff from around the world, many from those areas that have been immediately affected.
We have discussed the implications of the crisis with the City Council and, naturally, with our Students' Union. The City expects to offer sanctuary for up to 200 refugees from Syria over the course of the next two years and, as an established member of the Asylum Dispersal Programme, it already provides a range of support to refugees that have relocated to the City over recent months. The Council has asked the University to join a city task force that it has established to ensure a structured and coordinated response to the crisis.
The Students' Union has made clear its welcome to refugees (from this and other crises), and has this week invited local refugee charities to collect the many donations already received in its Free Shop. We are working with the Students' Union to see how we can support their activities and how we can jointly develop other volunteering initiatives - see below for contact details.
We are, as I say, an internationally-facing University, committed to working towards a tolerant and inclusive society. We are unswerving in our desire to recruit high quality students from diverse backgrounds and providing affordable access to higher education for all who can benefit. To this end the University already has in place a fund to support students that have been affected by catastrophic events in their home countries. In addition, we are examining ways in which we might provide a number of funded scholarships. The University also has a long-standing relationship with CARA, an organisation that supports academics escaping persecution or crisis; and we will respond to any related requests that may emerge from that particular organisation.
I have no doubt that our thinking will be sharpened over the coming days and weeks, as the local and national picture becomes clearer. In the meantime, we will keep staff up-to-date with developments through the internal web site.
Should you have any immediate questions or suggestions, please contact David Wardle in the Secretariat on 36705.
For volunteering ideas and opportunities - contact Greg Miller on 31058. Local information can also be found through the following organisations:
- Leeds City of Sanctuary coordinates local volunteering activities to make Leeds more welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers.
- LASSN - help with English lessons, or Grace Hosting (offering asylum seekers short stay accommodation).
More information about helping refugees around the region can also be sought from Migration Yorkshire - 0113 395 2434.
For individual donations you might wish to consider both international and local organisations:
- The UN Refugee Council - 3RP (Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan)
- PAFRAS - 0113 262 2163 - direct support to destitute asylum seekers, with food, clothing and money donations
Similarly donations can be dropped off on campus at the Love Leeds Charity Shop in the Students' Union.