Meet the students selling t-shirts to fund legal aid for refugees

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By Ella Siney, International Relations Masters

For the vast majority of us, £10 is an amount we would not think twice about spending on a night in the pub, a ticket for a night out, or an item of clothing, so why not put your next £10 towards an incredibly worthwhile cause?

What is SolidariTee?

Solidaritee is an entirely student-led movement established by Cambridge student Tiara Sahar Ataii as a result of her experience volunteering as a translator and interpreter in Greece, and her recognition of the fall in media coverage of the refugee crisis. She started the SolidariTee campaign. SolidariTee raises money that is put towards paying for legal aid and representation for refugees, and in doing so, shows solidarity. Whilst still a student, she invested her student loan into the making of t-shirts, and the selling began.

Since then, it is no understatement to say that SolidariTee has gone global. It has now spread to over 30 universities in the UK, Germany, the United States, and Australia. The first two campaigns (they are currently in their third campaign) saw student committees amass donations and sales of over £45,000. The campaigns even drew the attention of MPs such as Caroline Lucas, Jonathan Bartley, Jeremy Corbyn, and Tim Farron, among others, who too, stood in solidarity.Recently, SolidariTee announced the very exciting news that it has gained charity status.This is a huge achievement on the part of everyone who has watched SolidariTee grow over the past two years. As a registered charity, who knows where SolidariTee can go in the future.

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Featured Image: SolidariTee / Ella Siney

What does SolidariTee do?

The premise is simple: each t-shirt costs £10 and that £10 goes directly to funding legal aid in Greece. Admirably, so that SolidariTee can donate as much of the money raised from the tshirts as possible, they purposefully keep any administrative costs low. For instance, they ask students who are already travelling across the country to transport the tshirts with them to various cities, instead of employing an official courier service. Being entirely student led, nobody is paid for any of their time, including its founder, or those who work at national level, who voluntarily manage the entire charity and the multiple universities involved - quite a feat.

'they ask students who are already travelling across the country to transport the tshirts with them to various cities, instead of employing an official courier service. Being entirely student led, nobody is paid for any of their time'

This year SolidariTee has chosen to support two NGOs, namely, Fenix and Mobile Info Team. Fenix operates in Lesvos and supports all refugees’ legal and administrative needs, such as asylum-interview preparation. MIT operates in Thessaloniki and offers highly-specialised advice on family reunification through sustainable volunteering.

What’s so special about SolidariTee?

SolidariTee should be credited for the impressive way it has engaged thousands of students across the world with the refugee crisis. Using infographics, SolidariTee has used its social media presence to dispel a variety of myths and falsities surrounding the refugee crisis, and present clear information to its followers.SolidariTee is committed to providing a long term solution. Whilst it is true that both short and long term solutions are a vital part of any relief work, by supporting legal aid, SolidariTee makes a commitment to sustainable change. By funding a lawyer or a legal
adviser, SolidariTee ensures they are dealing with the problem at its root, as opposed to just maintaining thousands of people in camps.

'By funding a lawyer or a legal adviser, SolidariTee ensures they are dealing with the problem at its root, as opposed to just maintaining thousands of people in camps.'

What can you do?

Stand in solidarity! Support your friends who are selling t-shirts this year and look out for stalls in the ASS and elsewhere on campus, as well as several events we have planned.For the vast majority of us, £10 is an amount we wouldn’t think twice about spending on a night in the pub, a ticket for a night out, or an item of clothing - put your next £10 towards an incredibly worthwhile cause.

Featured Image: SolidariTee / Ella Siney


SolidariTee can be found on Facebook here and Twitter here.

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AUTHOR

Niamh Rowe

Deputy Features Online Editor 3nd year English and Philosophy

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