Croydon College students make an impact on the local and global community
Croydon College is the first further education institution in the UK to become rights respecting. The college is a Level 2 institution, the highest level that can be achieved through the RRSA programme.
Community involvement is an important aspect of the Award at Level 2 and Croydon College have established a strong reputation for student-led volunteer projects that create a big impact on the local and international community.
Here two Croydon College students, Rabya and Vicky, talk about their experience of being at a Rights Respecting College, how they welcome refugees into the college and the volunteer projects that they have worked on as a part of their rights respecting journey.
“Many of our students are refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world and face not only the challenge of education but the addition of settling into a new country of which their native language is not English.
“However, as soon as they arrive at Croydon College they are made to feel welcome, are included into the college community so that they develop a strong sense of belonging, and are educated on their human rights through enrichment classes.
“These students bring with them their cultures and a wealth of experience which adds vibrancy and diversity to the College. To celebrate this diversity and unite all students together, events are run throughout the year such as Refugee Week and Culture Awareness Month.
“This enables students to learn and appreciate each other’s cultures and recognises that human rights are universal and inalienable and that no-one should be discriminated against, by respecting each other’s rights and raising awareness across the college that discrimination is not acceptable.
“For many students volunteering is a significant part of life at Croydon College and many of the projects and campaigns we work on are led by refugees and migrant students who bring passion and inspiration along with a strong desire to make positive change. We are given these opportunities to improve the lives of others while improving our own confidence and abilities, which is truly empowering.
“Some may have been through horrific journeys to get here but that does not deter them from wanting to improve the lives of others and it is a privilege to be able to speak out on their behalf.”
“In our college we have a STAR Group (Student Action for Refugees) that started in September and we are the first and only further education college to run a satellite group for the charity.
“We believe refugees should have the same rights that a normal citizen has in their own country and that their rights should be respected by everyone.
“STAR training workshops started during October 2015 and the group is now leading the conversation sessions with students who are keen to develop their speaking skills. The STAR group also want to raise awareness and ensure refugees feel welcome in the UK and we run various campaigns to support this. This aim is linked with Article 2, as everyone can participate and there is no discrimination.
“One of the events organised by our college to support refugees was the organisation of a candlelight vigil in December 2015. This was important because it recognised those refugees who were living in camps and in Europe who would suffer during the winter.
“Last but not least, we organise different events in which we celebrate different cultures because we want all our students who are from different backgrounds to feel included in the college.
“Last year, we hosted ‘Share Your Story’ where students who came to the UK as refugees were encouraged to tell the story of why they decided to travel to the UK and explain what their journey was like and the problems that they may have come across during that period.
“This helps other students to recognise the statements and generalisations made by much of the popular media accusing the majority of refugees of being economic migrants.”