I am Ani James and I work as a graduate intern in the Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement (PAE) office. On 23 May, I organised my first film fundraiser in support of a very important cause close to my charitable sympathies and academic endeavours (Humanities: War, Conflict and Modernity BA(Hons) and Human Rights MA). My undergraduate degree encouraged an interconnected exploration of current affairs as per historical, social, political and economic implications of war, conflict and modernity. We predominantly focused on mind-sets, events, propaganda politics and bystanderism. Each of these concepts can be identified in current humanitarian crises, including representations and sentiment.
With this background, my internship with PAE inspired me to support the Global Opportunities Scholarship programme which I was aware of prior to beginning my internship. At the fundraising event, staff, students and the wider community came together to show their support for migrants. The short films and discussions focused on the conflict areas of Syria, Palestine, Libya, and Tibet. The films ignited sympathy and tolerance but also encouraged the questioning of the current social and political climate in the post-film discussion.
One of the films showed first-person accounts of far-right wing opinions of the perceived migrant threat and another highlighted the regurgitated political rhetoric warning against the welcoming of asylum seekers. This was juxtaposed in other films by welcoming, acceptance, and attempts to help struggling migrants: migrants who are fleeing war, and have left their homes, families, jobs and educational institutions, in search of safety and opportunities, for a shred of normality.
The Global Opportunities Scholarship programme provides a postgraduate degree, access to the university’s Momentum mentoring and BeePurple entrepreneurship schemes and a three-month internship at the end of the scholar’s course. The scholarship also covers accommodation, travel and food costs. One of the biggest challenges facing incoming asylum seekers is the inability to secure living costs. Unlike refugees, asylum seekers cannot work in any capacity, nor apply for educational funding. So the suggested donation at the event was the daily allowance set by the government for asylum seekers in the UK, of £5.27. When you tot up daily expenses such as food, travel and mobile phone costs, this is a marginal amount.
The University of Brighton is one of the only universities to offer this kind of scholarship and we really need to keep raising funds to ensure more asylum seekers can continue their studies, fulfil their own potential and help others in a similar situation.
One of the successful outcomes of the scholarship programme is that our first Global Opportunities scholar Emad’s Home Office application has been viewed more favourably and he has now been given refugee status – a decision which the Home Office said was influenced by the scholarship. We are now waiting for our second scholar Hussam’s decision to go through. They are both achieving distinctions on each of their modules and are so grateful for this opportunity.
I am also grateful for the opportunity to study these issues and to intern with a charity that strives to give vulnerable people a chance. The opportunity to further my own awareness and motivations means I want to help other people, and Emad and Hussam told us they feel the same way. Ultimately, the more support we can give people, the more we will flourish and the more we can give back.
It would be amazing to secure further scholarships for more asylum seekers. It costs approximately £10,000 to support each scholar, so we need to raise as much as possible before the start of the next academic year. Donations can be made through our JustGiving page.
Working on this project has inspired me to reach out to all the wonderful charities and organisations in Brighton that are all helping asylum seekers and refugees in Brighton. So, if anyone would like to be involved in a Global Opportunities community group, email me at A.James4@brighton.ac.uk, and we can all try to do our little bit to make a big difference.