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Abigail Grace graduated this week.

Ambition advantage for Abigail after active time at Exeter

A graduate from the University of Exeter is embarking on a career helping refugees, following her voluntary activity while studying.

Abigail Grace, 21, graduated this week with a First in BA International Relations and Anthropology and is now working at Refugee Support Devon. 

During her time at University, Abigail volunteered as the co-ordinator of the Be The Change group’s "project refugee" and organised several activities and campaigns. These included a shoebox appeal at Christmas, fundraisers, panel discussions, film screenings and drama performances to raise funds and awareness about refugee issues.

She says: “The highlights of the last few years have mainly come from extra-curricular activities - over the last few years I've been part of some really amazing societies and have been inspired by the people I've met and the things we've achieved. One thing which particularly comes to mind is the "Feast of Fools" event we put on (a free community banquet for over 50 people made entirely from food which would otherwise have been thrown away and cooked up by the Riverford chefs in the La Touche kitchen!). It was an amazing event and really came out of a few of us sitting round ranting about the ridiculous amount of food waste in the world.”

Abigail is now Project Development Worker at Refugee Support Devon - a small charity which aims to support refugees and asylum seekers to access mainstream services, integrate in the UK and increase awareness in our community. This includes an emergency fund and destitution project which offers vital relief in times of crisis, the women's group which meets weekly for a range of activities and which, along with an allotment, provide the opportunity for clients to gain skills, meet people and partake in meaningful activities. It runs English classes and home tutoring and has a legal advisor to help with claims. Abigail’s role involves ensuring all projects are effective and well-run, that they are addressing the needs of service users, also to increase partnership working with other organisations.  She is also part of the steering group for a new initiative called City of Sanctuary which is a national movement which aims to establish cities across the country as places of safety and welcome for refugees.

Abigail would like to work in the field of forced migration - potentially with a global focus on refugee flows. She continues: “I would like to work at policy level eventually but feels it is important to gain experience at grassroots level first. I really want a career which combines politics with the more ‘human’ aspects as covered by anthropology”. 

While studying and volunteering Abbie worked part time at John Lewis and had a keen interest in sport - she recently ran a marathon for MSF. 

Date: 16 July 2014

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