Two sanctuary scholars from the University of Warwick have been named on this year’s 100 Changemakers list by The Big Issue.

The list celebrates the people and organisations who are creating positive change and serves as a tribute to people who have focused not on themselves, but on the community. Warwick’s Sam Pordale, 23, and Angel Nakhle, 20, have been recognised for their work on the national campaign ‘lift the ban’ which advocates for asylum seekers to be given the right to work, and their service as youth advocates for Refugee Education UK.

They also volunteer with Student Action for Refugees (STAR) and are members of the Mentor Programme that helps asylum seekers with their university applications. Sam Pordale is in his first year studying Politics and International Studies.

He came to the UK in 2022 as an asylum seeker from Afghanistan and was given a sanctuary scholarship from the University to start his course in September 2023. Sam is a member of an English teaching programme at STAR that helped him when he first came to the UK.

He now volunteers at migrant centres and provides emotional support, alongside Maths and English tutoring. Sam said: “For asylum seekers getting into university is really hard, I want to change that and help education be more accessible.

“Seeing two refugees as part of this list shows that if we’re given the same opportunities, we can make a difference, and change the narrative of how we are perceived.” Angel Nakgle was 12 years old when she and her family came to the UK from Lebanon and is currently in her second year studying Law with French Law.

She got involved with the charity Stories of Hope and Home before coming to Warwick, and then started to help with REUK & STAR in her first year helping asylum seekers get into higher education. Angel said: “The groups that I work with have given me a platform to use my voice and feel heard and I want to motivate more people to come forward and be advocates to make a difference.

“I never thought that the work I do for my community would ever get this recognition, but it shows that these small steps and getting involved do matter.” Sam and Angel are supported by the Widening Participation Team under Warwick’s commitment as a University of Sanctuary.

These programmes are made possible through philanthropic support by alumni and donors. Emily Cannon, a Lifecycle Officer in the team said: “We are immensely proud of Sam and Angel and all that they have done to support refugees and asylum seekers through their work with STAR.

“We are very lucky to have them here at Warwick and we are grateful for everything they have contributed to our community.” The Warwick Scholars Programme as well as the Sanctuary Scholarships are philanthropically funded by alumni and donors.