Brunel Law School runs the Athens Refugee Project, where students are taken to Greece to assist unaccompanied minors and refugees.
The Greece refugee crisis started in September 2015, when 3200 people were crossing into Greece every day.
Professor Alexandra Xanthaki of the Brunel Law School had contacts in Greece, and they asked for her help in the form of volunteering. From this, the Athens Refugee Project was developed and started in October 2015.
Through this project, four groups of students from the Law School have been taken to volunteer at the Eleonas Refugee Centre in Athens. Brunel was the first European university to help there, and the contribution has been recognised by residents and the Greek Secretary General for Migration Policy who sent a letter of congratulations on the project.
The Athens Refugee Project has become a regular part of Brunel Law School, as students have been taken over to volunteer annually, and is constantly evolving due to the changing needs of refugees and the organisations that help them.
During these trips, students have volunteered with unaccompanied minors at Faros, with Melissa Network who support migrant women, and at a shelter for vulnerable refugees in the centre of Athens.
Each visit has an educational element for students, as they meet with stakeholders in the crisis. There have been long discussions with the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Greece, and the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) where volunteers have spoken to lawyers and social workers assisting refugees.
The students from Brunel Law School who take part in the Athens Refugee Project are mostly third years, and fundraise before they go. The participants on the last trip in December 2016 raised over €3000 which bought five laptops to help women with employment skills, two keyboards and one guitar to give the children music lessons, and lots of Christmas presents.
Former students who attended have called it a ‘life changing experience’, with many choosing to specialise in human rights law as a result of their time in Greece. In addition to this, one Brunel Law School graduate who took part in the project now works at the Home Office in Immigration Services.
Watch the video of our students during their time in Greece
Brunel Law School students at the Athens Refugee Project