SolidariTee is a national fundraiser-cum-campaign. It is a demonstration of solidarity which, thanks to the money that it raises, makes a tangible change.
Each £10 T-shirt equals one night of accommodation for a human rights lawyer in Greece.
All the proceeds go to Advocates Abroad, an NGO which provides legal aid and representation to refugees in Greece and Turkey.
Read a bit about why Tiara Ataii, President of SolidariTee, founded the campaign last year:
Having volunteered in Calais, Dessau, and Chios as a Farsi interpreter for refugees, I am no stranger to the NGO or pop-up charitable initiative. There is such a myriad of organisations which deal with every need, but what I saw across the board was a real lack of legal aid and representation. As a result, refugees are stuck in a strange legal limbo that always reminds me of Kafka’s The Trial, where a man is captured, arrested, for a crime he has no knowledge of committing and by an authority which he has no access to.
It shocked me – especially as a naïve student – that asylum seekers, stranded on Greek islands, and often with highly complicated cases, had no legal representation in what would be the most important few months of their lives. And that’s why I came up with SolidariTee, which is unique in being both a fundraiser and campaign. It’s a demonstration that says we believe in this basic human right. It’s a simple thought: everyone has the right to be fully informed in a process that could lead, if successful, to them gaining international protection, and if unsuccessful, to them being deported to a country which they may well risk death in.
And beyond this simple demonstration is a fundraiser. A demonstration, especially given all the discussion about the ‘echo chamber’ didn’t seem to go far enough, and as such, by buying a shirt, you can be sure that the money you are spending will go to a good cause. After all, a £10 shirt is the same price as a) a few pints and b) a night of accommodation for a lawyer.Tiara Sahar Ataii, President of SolidariTee
A note from the founder
The idea for this year’s design came about during a meeting between an Afghan man and a lawyer from Advocates Abroad, while I was interpreting in Chios. We were trying to work out the basic geography of his life; where he was born, where he worked, where he trained as an army officer, where his wife was from, where his son was born. Crucially, we needed the details of where he was captured and tortured by the Taliban, which we were hoping to include in his case as a key part in his claim for asylum. We struggled to find some of the English transliterations of the villages, and I promised the lawyer at the end of the meeting to take the map he had made home so that I could do some work on it that evening. While researching the names of the villages that night, I realised that I was holding his life-story in my hands. That map is now on the central design for this year, which you can see on all the shirts.
During that first meeting, I had noticed that his nine-year-old son had been painfully bored. At our next meeting, I made sure to bring some paper and a pen on me, as I knew that his father was trying to teach him to write in Persian. During the meeting, his son busied himself with a poem that his father had written himself and taught him. Whenever the lawyer and I were trying to work on small details amongst ourselves, the father would dictate a couple more lines to his son. At the end of the meeting, I had to rush off before I could read it, but on our last day in Chios, the father presented me with the poem once more, but this time written up by his son ‘neatly and properly’. This is now the design on the tote bags. It largely deals with maturity and coming of age. I like to think that you can trace the family’s story and hopes through what we’ve produced this year, even though they’re only snippets of what I imagine is going through their heads right now.
You can help our campaign — whether you're a student at a participating university or not, you can buy our T-shirts and tote bags:
We're always looking for more people to get involved with SolidariTee, be it this year or next! Drop us a line with your uni, a bit about you, and whether you'd be interested in being one of our reps (a representative selling 20 shirts) or part of the committee.
We look forward to hearing from you!
In the Press
Here are some press quotes about the work we've done! Press the left and right buttons to scroll through the slideshow.
Meet SolidariTee, the student refugee campaignAmid European state nationalism and stringent control over inter-state movement of people, the SolidariTee campaign demonstrates the capacity for today’s youth to reach out across borders and support our fellow people.
— The Student Newspaper (Edinburgh)
Advocacy and Accessories: SolidariTeeFor refugees and asylum seekers, entering a new country is fraught with difficulty, not least because of the incredible complications of navigating a legal and political system that is entirely foreign and inaccessible without inside help. When people are at their most vulnerable, legal aid and information are valuable resources.
— Kit Smart's Blog (Pembroke College, Cambridge)
T-shirt campaign raises money for refugeesAdvocates Abroad deals with the cause. Legal aid is ultimately the only way that a refugee is going to be able to start their new life. This is evidenced by the fact that Advocates Abroad has a 100% success rate for July and August 2017: all the refugees they worked with were granted international protection and have been able to move out of the camp and onto the mainland.
The refugee crisis and Union+: How students can helpShe’s [Tiara, the founder] worked in refugee camps in Germany and in Chios, and over summer she’s worked with Advocates Abroad herself, so we know exactly where the money is going and how it’s used.
— The Tab
The Vulture Show on CamFM 97.2A refugee can get hold of clothes or toys for their kids, but if they don’t have legal representation they’re always going to be on that island.
— Tiara Sahar Ataii, speaking on The Vulture Show
Cambridge student’s campaign for refugees goes nationalWe talk a lot about how divided society is becoming, so the idea of students from all around the country uniting around one message was a really exciting prospect.
— The Tab
Student’s t-shirts to raise funds for refugeesUltimately, raising awareness is just a means – not an end. It’s useless unless people feel compelled to act in some way – be it by talking to their MP, donating, protesting.
If you'd like to cover SolidariTee in an article or feature, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.