The Wintegreat Programme, launched in late January by the LSESU Student Action for Refugees Society, is an initiative that will see local refugees empowered by interaction with individuals across LSE. This pilot project follows a template provided by universities in France, the home country of Laura Schiever (BSc Government 2018), who is co-running the project alongside her fellow final year student, Kwang Lin (BSc Anthropology 2018).
The pilot aims to pair 15 refugees with student mentors and will include English classes, as well as workshops themed around how to apply to university, how to apply for jobs and an introduction to social sciences. Mentors will cover a spectrum of undergraduate, postgraduate, local and international students.
Laura and Kwang hope the programme will help widen access to higher education and employment opportunities for refugees and empower them in their academic and professional goals, while developing social bonds that help to mitigate feelings of isolation.
Kwang cites how the programme taps into expertise from across the School: “While student volunteers will be mentoring refugees in achieving their professional goals, LSE academics will be leading workshops, and further advice will come from LSE Careers and external partners,” she said. “We also want to connect refugees with LSE alumni, whose professional paths cover such a wide variety of industries.”
“Undergoing a programme at LSE helps provide credibility, with certification provided to those who complete the course,” added Laura. “Even just attending five hours a week can provide a platform. And we believe students are in a strong position to help.”
Annual Fund support has enabled the society to purchase textbooks and other teaching materials, and will help to reimburse travel costs for refugees, who often live outside central London. Laura and Kwang hope in the future they will be able to pitch the programme to corporate sponsors. “In France companies have employed refugees who have come through Wintegreat – we’re hoping to establish a similar network here,” said Laura.
Meanwhile, Hazel Ah Teck (LLB 2019), outreach director of the LSESU United Nations Society, has developed a new initiative having been inspired by Student Action for Refugees Society’s inaugural Refugee Week last year, which also received an Annual Fund grant.
Uncovering Human Trafficking Week will involve a wide range of voices from across the School: seven societies will host nine events over five days in the last week of February.
The week is dedicated to exposing the realities of human trafficking and exploring through an academic, cultural and societal lens how the industry works. Each day will be themed around a particular demographic group – women will be the focus of the first day which will see the Women in Business Society screen a documentary on sex trafficking victims.
“My goal was to create as meaningful an impact as possible on the LSE community, and I thought collaborating with a number of other societies was an effective way of doing that,” explained Hazel. “We can’t begin to imagine the experiences endured by victims of human trafficking but want to raise awareness of their plight and provide a platform for discussion. I’m hoping students will become committed to learning more about the impact of this industry, perhaps by joining organisations that participate in similar events.”
The generosity of Annual Fund donors has helped Hazel with logistical and promotional costs. “This support has been essential,” she said. “Without the Annual Fund, this event – if it had happened at all – would have been on a much smaller scale with significantly less impact. Thank you to Annual Fund donors, whose contributions are so crucial for projects such as this.”