The nights are drawing in here in London but there is no let-up in the energy and dedication of the staff at Save the Children UK to improve the lives of children all over the globe.
The Pulse volunteers were kindly invited to the recent Annual Reception held to acknowledge the importance of the financial donations received throughout the year. It was held at BAFTA in London and was a great chance to mingle and enjoy a few drinks and posh canapes (unfortunately no sightings of George Clooney or Benedict Cumberbatch or their ilk) but a good time was still had by all. It was heart-warming to meet both high networth individuals but also several committed people who generate funds at more modest levels within their own local community. This year the focus was on the continued great work being done to support Syrian refugees many of whom are on the brink of their third winter in the camp run by Save the Children. CEO Justin Forsyth shared reflections from his own visit this year and the StC Country Director from Jordan spoke movingly of the everyday challenges of the children there. For example, families must queue daily, often for some hours, for bread and other food and commonly it is the children who are given this task – and so they may not be attending the school classes set up there. It is important that they try to maintain some continuity in their education so that they have not fallen too far behind if and when they are able to return to their homeland or new destination. But of course the family must eat. She also described the elation she heard from one boy as he raced back to his tent pushing a wheelchair that was suitable for his brother crippled as a result of the fighting in their home town. Now there was the chance for the two brothers to play outside together as they had done at home and for the injured boy to feel included after weeks of isolation in their tent. Donations of equipment such as wheelchairs do come in but not always enough to go around. Much media focus, and perhaps rightly so, has diverted to the Ebola crisis, but it was a sober reminder that while the world’s attention moves on there are many, many humanitarian crises that Save the Children support every day and some we may never even get to hear about. More funds are always needed. Which leads nicely to – Christmas Jumper Day !! – 12 December, which is both a big fund raising day and also time for some fun in the office. For those in the UK, the supermarket chain, Asda, has several fun designs with a donation from each sale going to Save the Children. If you need to liven up your festive wardrobe, this could be a great way to support a great cause.
I cannot not mention the response to the Ebola crisis as this has occupied the efforts of many here over the last months. You will have seen that the Treatment Centre in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone opened on the 5th November. The construction was led by the British Army and their medics will treat infected healthworkers while Save the Children will manage the beds allocated to the local population. This has been achieved with funds from the UK government and also from Save the Children with a proportion coming from our Partnership. A new workstream (Emergency Response) has been added specifically to form strategies to enable more rapid response to crises like this in the future. This may include mobilisation of our staff, either locally, or internationally, with specific expertise that would help saves lives in such situations. Watch for more news in the coming months – maybe you have those required skills and this could be where you could make that difference. Save the Children have deployed many staff to the Ebola treatment centre and the care they have taken in selecting the most appropriate staff and doing everything they can to support them while there is most impressive. I was also moved to overhear a young staff member saying she had put herself forward as she was single and so perhaps less daunted than those who might have to leave a young family while putting themelves at the frontline of a very risky siutuation. Fantastic work all round.
Meanwhile my own assignment is drawing to a close – it seems to have passed in a flash. More on this next time.