Insigneo’s Ana M Campos Marin and Claudia Mazzà, joined a group of 21 University of Sheffield staff and students that trekked over 240 miles, following the Trans Pennine trail as part of the University’s Big Walk 2016. The efforts of University staff and students have raised over £40,000 so far. The funds will help both students and academics who are seeking refuge in the UK. The University’s five asylum seeker scholarships are for students who have not yet been awarded refugee status – and therefore have no access to student loans or other public funds. These scholarships are unique in the UK and cover the cost of tuition and living costs for each year of study. They are available to students’ studying undergraduate degrees or postgraduate masters courses.
We interviewed Ana to find out more about her experience.
Why did you choose to get involved with The Big Walk?
I guess I was in the right place at the right time! I had just finished my PhD and I realised that I had spent the last few months being in front of a computer. I wanted to do something that made a difference to society and involved working with people. I was discussing these ideas with my colleague and friend Claudia Mazzà, who mentioned the Big Walk. I liked the cause of Walk and signed up.
What was your highlight of the walk?
I developed some wonderful friendships with new people who I would not come across in my day to day life. To some extent I feel the challenge was more mental than physical. Suddenly I was in Hornsea about to start a 120 mile walk with 10 strangers! These people would be my little family during 6 days and we had to do our best to team up and adapt to each other quickly in this short space of time.
Were there any low points?
I found the lack of support by some people disheartening. The real challenge is still out there. People are running away from their countries to find a safe place. At this very moment there are still people walking without shoes, food or even without any family or friends. In my case, I knew that after 6 days I was going to be at home with my family, warm food, nice bed and with a professional career ahead of me.
What was you experience like overall?
Overall it was a positive experience and we managed to raise a significant amount of money for charity. I can’t wait to see how the money we raised can help in bringing back the future stolen from some people. I would like to get involved in activities that involve helping refugees directly, for example, collecting food or clothes and delivering these to camps or organise events for charity in Sheffield to create awareness.