Students and Refugees Together

We are START – Students and Refugees Together

Our mission is to work in partnership with families, individuals and organisations to facilitate the transition of refugees from people in need to self reliant contributors to their local communities. START recognises the skills and experiences that refugees bring to the city. As a learning organisation, START uniquely utilises the student placement as a resource which together with the strengths and skills of the community, we work out what support is needed and how to achieve it.

**** COVID UPDATE ****

START has worked throughout the pandemic, offering support through virtual and socially distanced means. We are currently having a phased return to in person groups and services, stay updated on the ‘our work’ pages which will be kept up to date with information about the restart of events such as Cultural Kitchen. Thank you to all our staff and volunteers who have worked innovatively to ensure the people we work with feel supported through this difficult time.

“To plant a garden is to believe in hope”

At START our work aims to support refugees to reduce the impact and isolation they feel coming to live in Plymouth in a number of different ways. We offer holistic support either by working on a one to one basis or through community activities. Our team also advocates and assists refugees to live within new communities or to move to new geographical locations. We provide various community activities that promote recreation and other leisure time occupations within the refugee communities – These activities seek to reduce social isolation, promote healthy living and create volunteering opportunities. The aspect of our work linked with universities advances the education of students in training by providing learning experiences, which contribute to their personal and professional development.

START received the European Citizen’s Award in Brussels for our “exceptional achievements and commitment to areas promoting stronger integration, cultural cooperation and links to the European spirit” and were the only UK winners of this prize in 2017.

BBC Radio 4’s Clare Balding joined us on a START Walk to Mount Edgecumbe for an episode of ramblings, which you can listen to HERE

The START team worked with The Group Up project on a very special natural building at Embercome, watch the film HERE

The Strengths Approach

The way START works is always guided by the strengths approach. This applies to work with individuals and their families, with students, staff and volunteers. It also steers the organisation and its relationships with other institutions. Principles of the strengths approach are similar to those of trauma informed practice. They include the belief that:

  • All situations are rich with resources however difficult they seem.
  • People, communities and organisations can change.
  • Everyone’s contribution is valued and needed.
  • Difficulties, however severe, can also be a source of resilience and creativity.
  • We cannot know the potential of others and must not place limits on their aspirations.

We believe that, by working together with people we can achieve much more than by ‘doing things for them’ and that the best outcome for most situations is achieved through collaboration.

To explore the Strengths Approach and it’s application you can read the recent publication ‘The Strengths Approach in Practice’ by START Trustees Avril Bellinger & Deirdre Ford.

“This book advances passionate and conceptually sound arguments for practical, philosophical and political applications of strengths approaches to complex social challenges, arguing that there is always something that can be done.” Carole Adamson, University of Auckland

“An inspiring account of a prize-winning international co-operation, in which students, refugees, volunteers and professionals make a dynamic contribution to the wellbeing of a city.” Bill Jordan, University of Plymouth

Available from Bristol University Press

Copyright © START 2021 – Registered Charity No: 1108113 – Limited Company No: 05242598