1 October 2018

De Montfort University students supported organizations and communities working with refugees across Europe

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), as part of its continuous outreach efforts about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shares this story related to Goal 16, submitted by De Montfort University, a UNAI member institution located in the United Kingdom.

1 October 2018 - De Montfort University - DMU (United Kingdom), a member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), promotes active learning with a social purpose among its students, encouraging them to travel across Europe to help refugees. This institution of higher education recently announced its new strategic plan, crafted in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The students travelled to support refugees in four different European cities. The idea was to get hands-on experience with groups or communities supporting refugees and other disadvantaged people. In Amsterdam (Netherlands) for instance, they met those behind Right to Education, an organization which is supporting the refugee community by providing free language lessons.

Michelle Frimpong, a student of International Business and Management who was in the Dutch capital said: “If I could do one thing it would be to create more opportunities for these people to tell their stories of where they have come from, as that would help eliminate the stigma”. Along the same lines, Law student Kalem Todd praised the fact that she was doing "something so worthwhile".

Todd joined the group that went to Brussels (Belgium), where they had the chance to work with Serve the City, a global movement of volunteers providing practical support for the homeless and refugees. The centre is a lifeline for those without a home, offering a warm, dry and safe place to stay each night. Students helped to prepare breakfast for those who had stayed overnight and handed out toiletry kits.

In Paris (France), DMU students were able to visit Utopia 56, an organization that mobilizes citizens to support refugees living on the streets. They also visited the Emmaus Centre to see how it supports families with healthcare, education, accommodation and employment. Symone Astley, student of Business, Economics and International Relations, said that "seeing this work was inspirational".

Finally, in Berlin (Germany) DMU students joined the Activist Academy, created to inspire students to be a force for positive change through workshops, craftivism and debate. "Everybody here is an activist. We just don’t realize it", highlighted Kaisha Wilson, a Law and Business student. “If I am looking for someone who inspired me it is all of you", Sarah Thomson, Director of Strategic and International Partnerships at DMU, told students.