Why I chose to volunteer with Solidaritee

My name is Jasmin and I am a third-year Liberal Arts student majoring in Geography. My interests lie in the aspects of identity and belonging in place within the discipline of Geographies, asking questions like: “How and why do societies construct themselves in a way which excludes others?”. This interest inspired me to work with Solidaritee so that I can play a small part in helping individuals be granted asylum in a system that works to exclude them.

Group of Solidaritee volunteers

Solidaritee raises awareness about the problems that migrants face, especially the legal issues which are key to addressing their future. We do this by selling t-shirts inspired by the refugee crisis. The t-shirts are not just visible displays of solidarity, but when you purchase a t-shirt, over 75% of the total cost of the t-shirt goes directly to grants which fund legal aid to help Europe’s most vulnerable – those who will usually be exploited by the system. The grants assist in drafting them legitimate claims to asylum and reduce the risk of being deported. By buying a t-shirt, your money goes to the people who actually need it, not large corporations, not charitable schemes which appear altruistic at first but are uncovered as rather inadequate in addressing the issues that are actually occurring.

Group of young people in ‘Solidaritee’ tshirts

Studying Geography has provided me with skills in critical analysis to look at the migration crisis without the subjective lens that institutions place over it. It enables us to see the power relations that lie beneath the migrant crisis and then, of course, aids us to come up with solutions that can help undo these. Geography has helped me to understand that we should not bypass the facts and figures and the stories that we hear about the horrendous troubles that refugees face. In fact, many of our governments utilise an anti-refugee rhetoric which paints migrants almost as an enemy of European countries – countries who can seemingly only serve the interests of their own people. But often refugees are used as a tool for those in power to exploit, constructing refugees as enemies of vulnerable countries  and creating fear amongst the population in an effort to maintain their position in power.

Group of young people in ‘Solidaritee’ tshirts

I have been involved in discussion groups within the charity and my geographical knowledge has been beneficial in understanding the refugee crisis during these discussions. I hope to use this experience and the knowledge I have gained to pursue a Masters in migration studies or forced migration studies, and I believe that my geographical understanding of how people relate to place will be really advantageous.

In terms of getting involved in the charity Solidaritee, the smallest thing you could do is purchase a t-shirt. You can do this by getting in contact with me: @jasminarciero on Instagram or by emailing me jasmin.arciero@kcl.ac.uk.

You can also get involved in the charity yourself! Their website is www.solidaritee.org.uk and their Instagram handle is @teesofsolidarity

For more long term solutions, we need to deconstruct the systems that allow refugees to be exploited in the first place.

If you would like a better perspective on the lives of migrants take a look at these videos:

The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of King’s College London and all its members.