During the month of November, CUAI held a daily social media campaign to raise money for Syria Relief.
Syria Relief is a charity providing emergency medical care, food aid and education for those 7.6 million internally displaced by the conflict, thus helping to reduce the mass migration from Syria. Overall, we raised 125.55 pounds.
Every day, we would post a statistic about the refugee crisis, which the UN has determined is the largest since WWII, followed by a link to our fundraising page. These statistics were contributed each by a different member of the university-wide group, and the donations by both members and supporters of the cause. The participation from the entire university, as well as the awareness-raising from those who follow us on social media world-wide, is part of what makes Amnesty an effective organization-by encouraging participation, and through education, we are able to influence opinion and bring light to the issues featured.
The campaign culminated in a candlelight vigil, where members of Amnesty got together and led a procession around Cambridge town center, a visible demonstration of solidarity making use of the well-known Amnesty candle logo. The procession ended at Clare College Chapel, where we were met by musicians and hot drinks. Each participant was invited to read out a statistic to be put in a video (forthcoming) of the entire campaign, a lasting product to commemorate CUAI’s efforts, but more importantly, a permanent artifact to raise awareness of the refugee crisis.
One in five people in Lebanon are refugees.
2 million asylum applications were processed worldwide this year, with Germany receiving the most applications.
Yusra Mardini is a Syrian refugee who swam for 3 hours to push a sinking boat to safety, saving innocent lives. This summer, she competed as a swimmer at the Rio Olympics!
Newnham had a film night at 7pm in the JCR watching Casablanca. This was in line with our awareness raising campaign this term for refugees as the film is centred around the plight of refugees in ww2. Many of the actors in the film were refugees at the time. Eleanor Turnbull, college rep for Newnham, made a brief speech about the film and it’s relevance to amnesty’s campaign, and said where funds raised would be going. We watched the film and people made voluntary donations. At Emma they organised a pub quiz in Emma bar and raised £43. They organised it with the Emma Access Officer during the CUSU shadowing scheme so the shadows got to play for free and see how relaxed/approachable Emma is. Everyone else paid £1 each to participate. The quiz was a mix of Human Rights rounds and more fun rounds like a picture round, a music round, etc.. The general feedback was that everyone really enjoyed themselves and people stuck around for a drink afterwards so it was generally very chilled out. In total the reps have raised £53.01 this term for our chosen charities!
At the beginning of November, just before the American election, we decided that it was time to address some of the crucial human rights debates currently going on in the USA. Such a diverse topic requires a diverse range of experiences and mediums, so we were very pleased to be able to host a whole range of people with different perspectives on the issues of human rights in the US. This is why our multimedia event used poetry, comedy and discussion to try and deal with some of the complex issues surround human rights in the US
Blaire Andres, from Reprieve, gave a very important first hand account of Reprieve’s work for individuals on death row and how inhumane some of the execution methods are. Kate Dunbar followed this with a very insightful discussion of the problems of the US justice system, especially in relation to the war on drugs and how this linked to racism.
CUAI returned to Downing Bar on the 21st October to host its now renowned ‘Jamnesty’ open mic night.
Word had obviously spread since the last event, as we were inundated with requests to play from some really talented musicians across Cambridge’s student body.
Gianamar Giovannetti-Singh got things off to an impressive start with a set of his own material, whilst Jade Cuttle’s delicate voice left everyone enraptured. Returning favourites Zac Evans and Emily Myles both pulled large crowds through the door, and Holly Musgrave left such an impression on the hosts that she has since been invited back to perform at Downing Bar! Clara Collingwood brought a nice change of tone, and we were even treated to a number from CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui. Time was left at the end for some impromptu performances, with a rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ being particularly memorable.
One of the best things about ‘Jamnesty’ is its ability to attract people who had just dropped into the bar and might not otherwise have come into contact with Amnesty International. Not only were stickers given out and petitions signed, but a total of £285 was raised. Thank you to all the performers and here’s hoping the next event will be equally successful!
Students from the university gathered on Kings Parade to echo the calls of thousands of protesters worldwide, on Friday 22nd April, in support of the Truth For Giulio campaign.
The campaign aims to bring to light the true events surrounding the tragic death of Cambridge PhD student Giulio Regeni, whose body was found on the 3rd of February following his disappearance in Cairo on the 25th of January. Giulio’s murder was “This is a fight for academic freedom”, said Priscilla Mensah at the rally. The CUSU president emphasised the Student Union’s commitment to the campaign, offering their condolences to those who knew Giulio, noting too just how acutely the loss has been felt among the Cambridge community.
Cambridge students were not the only group represented at the rally. As well as CUAI, the Cambridge Amnesty City Group lent their support to the event, and as a result the march attracted people from all over Cambridge and even beyond. Within the university, Dr. Anne Alexander from the POLIS department – who had helped draft the letter, which was signed by over 4600 academics nationally, forcing the campaign even further into the spotlight– assisted in promoting an academic interest in the event. Dr. Glen Rangwala, an academic in the department where Giulio worked and one of his supervisors, delivered a more personal account of what Giulio was like, and urged those in attendance to continue to pursue the cause in his name. He dispelled any myth that what happened to Giulio might have been as a result of a lapse in caution: Giulio was well aware of the risks, exercised caution in every way expected of him, and yet was still a victim of this horrific crime.
Downing Bar recently joined the illustrious ranks of London, Paris, and Los Angeles in being host to a human rights concert, and can easily lay claim to being just as much of a success.
The masses poured in on Friday evening (the 29th April) and were treated to a enjoyably diverse range of live music and comedy. There were those who had never performed live before, and those who harbour hopes of a professional career, and everyone in between. The sizeable crowd were treated to both original material, and well-known covers, in an evening that catered for those who came especially for the music, and for those who wanted something a bit more casual. CUAI’s very own Tiffany Hui and Madeleine Lofchy put the rest of the exec to shame by turning in one of the stand out sets of the night!
All in all, £180 was raised on a wholly successful and entertaining evening. Our thanks go out to all the attendees, performers, and anyone else who helped out along the way!
On the 14th of February 2016, Christ’s College held a bake sale, which was well-attended and showed some superb baking action from the MCR – in particular, Christ’s college rep Robin Lamboll would like to give special credit to Robert Bielik for his excellent apple strudel. The event raised £47.
Murray Edwards – Fundraising and Film Screening of ‘Pride’
Throughout the term, college rep Rosanna Gregory managed to raise £30 by doing washing up for people. On Thursday 25th of February, a film screening of ‘Pride’ was held, raising £7.
Caius – Doughnuts at Downing Site
On a cold but beautifully sunny afternoon on 3rd March 2016, Caius reps Madeleine Lofchy and Tiff Hui brought doughnuts to Downing Site, in aid of Students Supporting Street Kids and the Cambridge Homeless Outreach Programme. 2 hours and 180 Krispy Kremes later, they had raised £154, spread awareness about SSSK and CHOP’s work, and supplied their grateful customers with Amnesty stickers to continue spreading the word.
Jesus –Fundraising at Jesus College’s International Women’s Day Tea Party
On International Women’s Day, Jesus College hosted a tea party open for all genders to attend, with music, spoken word and food. Jesus rep Ellie Williams organised collection for CHOP and SSSK at the event.
Clare – Collaboration with Clare Ents
On the 4th of March 2016, Clare college reps Charlotte Dunn and Eleanor Fawcett hosted an unforgettable collaboration between CUAI and Clare Ents. The event was a great success, with an encouraging response from ents-attendees and a night of delicious AmnesG&Ts and AmnesTinis. The college reps helped raise awareness about Amnesty International – in particular its views on the Human Rights Act – as well as the work by SSSK and CHOP. An impressive total of £108.12 was raised.
Downing –Pub Quiz
Downing bar turned yellow on the 8th March as the regular and ever-popular pub quiz was conducted in conjunction with CUAI. Seemingly there are a lot of people still looking for academic pursuits even after a day’s work as attendance was good, and £32 was raised for what is obviously a fantastic cause!
Homerton – Open Mic Night
On the 8th of March, CUAI rep and SSSK committee member Isabel Goodman organised an Open-Mic night at the Portland Arms. The evening involved fantastic acts showcasing music, comedy and spoken words. A charity raffle (with an impressive top prize £80 punting tour as a top prize) was also held. Over £200 were raised overall!
Emmanuel – Combining environmental and social concerns
Through the EnvironENT quiz held on the 10th of March, Emmanuel College Rep Laura Schubert raised £74 for Amnesty homelessness by including SSSK and CHOP.
Fitzwilliam – Documentary Screening of ‘Departing: Arrivals’,
Following on CUAI’s focus on refugees during Michaelmas 2015, the Lent Term fundraiser at Fitzwilliam College took the form of a film-screening and Q&A for the short documentary, ‘Departing: Arrivals’, documenting the experiences of Syrian refugees who have found asylum in the UK. Director Hafsah Naib was on hand to answer questions from an enthusiastic audience, and everyone involved walked away with a greater knowledge of the ‘grey area’ of the refugee experience, which turned out to be very different from media reports. CUCRAG representative Sarah Collins was also present and gave a brief talk about the group’s work in the Calais ‘Jungle’ and how more students can get involved.In the end, Fitzwilliam rep Savannah Tiger Adeniyan managed to raise £40 to go towards CUCRAG’s efforts.
Want to get more involved?
If you want to find out more about what our lovely college reps are up to, or join your college Amnesty group, check out their Facebook pages:
This February CUAI decided to tackle the issue of UK inequality in an inspiring event that merged art and discussion to find new ways of combating inequality. The event explored the intersections and relationships between race, education, welfare and access to justice in creating inequality, allowing us all to get a more sophisticated understanding of how inequality is perpetuated.
We were very lucky to hear from two professionals who are working to make the UK a more equal place. Emmanuel Akpan-Inwang gave an inspiring account of his work in TeachFirst, which aims to close the gap in educational inequality, giving every child the best start in life. We also heard from Grace Seller from Frontline, about how social work can transform people’s lives and give them new opportunities. Both speakers gave us a new perspective on what it means to work with the most disadvantaged in society on a daily basis and how access to education and welfare can change a person’s life for good.
What was particularly inspirational about the evening was that it presented us with a myriad of ways that people can confront inequality. Mariam Ansar gave a fresh personal perspective on the issues of inequality by talking about her own background and her work for CUSU’s BME campaign and reading her poem that beautifully encapsulated the difficulties faced by those from disadvantaged communities. Troy Aidoo’s screening of his short film was a poignant exploration of the violence experienced by black communities at the hands of the police, yet another example of how disadvantaged communities experience injustice even in a justice system that claims to be equal to all. Mariam and Troy’s artistic work gave us a more personal understanding of the pain caused by the systemic injustices of British society and has inspired all of us to work harder to tackle inequality wherever we find it.
If you would like to support Troy’s work (he is currently working on a project called 1500 and Counting challenging deaths in police custody) have a look at the crowdfunding page below or check out his website.
In the final week of Lent term, CUAI welcomed Clare McGregor, Managing Director of Coaching Inside and Out (CIAO), a charity that offers life coaching to prisoners, to the Institute of Criminology where she gave a talk about criminal justice and the rights of offenders.
Clare began her talk by explaining that she had experienced three all-female red-brick institutions in her life: her school, Newnham College, where she was a student, and Styal Prison, where she has worked for the past five years coaching women. Of these, she said, Styal contains by far the most potential.
It is this potential that, through life coaching, CIAO hopes to unlock in prisons. Coaching involves finding out what offenders want to change and what is holding them back, and, as Clare explained, this has proved that the only thing that sets offenders apart from other people is the social circumstances that lead to them ending up behind bars. Many of Styal’s residents were themselves born in the prison’s mother-and-baby unit, which illustrates the fact that their life prospects were determined at birth.
Clare made the important point that CIAO’s clients ‘are not stupid, they just have very different career options to the rest of us’, referring to the fact that these are individuals who offend not out of choice but because they know no other option. One client was quoted as having explained that she ended up working on the streets because she needed to support her family, and, being ‘shit at shoplifting’, saw no other choice. CIAO works on the principle that that everyone has the right to a chance to escape such hopeless circumstances, and aims to help them find the ability to do so.
A sense of injustice led Clare to her work helping those who are given very few chances in life, and she stressed in her talk that we too are capable of working to change what we believe to be unfair. As CIAO’s work proves, small steps can allow progress to happen and help us work towards social justice.
For more info see CIAO’s website: https://coachinginsideandout.org.uk/
You can also follow Clare on Twitter @Clare_McGregor and email her firstname.lastname@example.org