Caroline currently works in the financial sector for a global accountancy organisation. She has a background in global journalism and media development. Being moved by media coverage of the plight of refugees, she wanted to do something tangible to help, so is delighted to be part of BWR.
What made you join a Community Sponsorship group?
My mother arrived in England when she was 13 years old. She was from a small village in Ireland and one of 9 siblings. She was innocent and naïve and had never left her village before, but she was looking for a chance to improve her life. She encountered a lot of prejudice but also kindness and help. She worked hard, went on to raise a family and we have all prospered because of her effort. I believe everyone deserves a chance in life.
How did you hear about Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees?
I heard about the Bermondsey Welcomes Refugees group through an ex-colleague, who had started the initiative with a fellow volunteer, after learning about the scheme from a friend who had already welcomed a family to his community. As soon as she told me about the project, I knew it was something I wanted to help with in my spare time.
What is your background? And how will you use your skills to progress the work of BERMONDSEY WELCOMES REFUGEES?
I have been involved in the non-profit sector for years. I previously worked at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. We organised training and development programmes for journalists from the developing world. To give an example, one of the initiatives I worked on during my time there was HIV/Aids training. It was an intensive, week-long course and at the end the journalists returned to their respective countries and would try to dispel some of the myths surrounding AIDS and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).After working in this sector, I was looking for something that I could do in my own time, I have always supported charities financially, but I wanted to do something meaningful. I had never been involved with an initiative like this before, and as with most people I have a busy work and social life, so time is always a premium, but I give what I can.
Have you ever volunteered with a Community Sponsorship group before?
This is the first Community Sponsorship Group I have been involved in, but since joining BERMONDSEY WELCOMES REFUGEES I realised that I have two friends who have done the same in their own communities. They both found it very rewarding and have enjoyed seeing the family settle and integrate into the community. I have learned so much since joining the team and I now have an even deeper empathy with the plight of refugees. I have been saddened watching the documentaries we have screened, ‘For Sama’ and ‘7 Days in Syria’, but I have also learnt a lot.
Has working with this group and learning more about the barriers refugees have to overcome changed the way you feel about anything?
What I love about our group is there are people from all walks of life who have come together for the sole aim of helping a refugee family. We all have different strengths, backgrounds and talents and everyone pulls together as a team. I am so proud of the work we have done so far and look forward to welcoming a family to the Bermondsey area. I would absolutely suggest people look to see if there are groups like this in their own areas and get involved in any way they can, I know I’ve loved it and I think everyone would learn a lot.
You can support us to resettle a refugee family and help them to build a new and sustainable life by donating to our Just Giving page