Meet Harriet: nurse, first-aider, volunteer and friend
This wonderful woman is Harriet. When she’s not busy being a full-time paediatric nurse in the UK or providing first aid for refugees in Paris, she volunteers with us to support asylum-seekers in Birmingham.
Harriet first started supporting refugees three years ago as a First Aid Support Team – FAST volunteer in our Calais warehouse, where she provided first aid services to hundreds of refugees sleeping rough there and in Dunkirk. During her time with us she met a group of likeminded people who all stayed in touch and eventually introduced her to a support group in Paris who could use first aid volunteers.
At first she decided to help out with her friends for a week every month, but this gradually escalated to the point where Harriet chose to set up her own Paris-based first aid charity, MARDi: Medical Aid for Refugees and Displaced People. As a busy nurse in Birmingham she can only visit the Paris camps during her annual leave, but she has put together a fantastic team of volunteers who have provided support inside the city’s camps every day for the last two years. They help with everything from minor wounds to illnesses, and if the refugee needs more complex support – such as antibiotics – the volunteers signpost them to Médecins du Monde France, who operate outside the camps.
As if she wasn’t already doing enough to help, a few weeks ago Harriet saw that people needed help in her local area and got in touch with us. During the evenings and weekends, she joins other amazing volunteers of ours to visit a hotel in Birmingham where they provide around 50 people with clothes, shoes, friendship, and lots of college material like backpacks and notepads for the young men who enrolled in a nearby school.
Harriet considers that she’s lucky to have chosen a career that can be useful to so many different people, so she says she may as well use it in a helpful way. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people in society but they tend to mostly rely on charities for help – so she’s proud to be able to contribute to that.
We feel so lucky to have the support of people like Harriet. It’s thanks to amazing volunteers like her, who are happy to offer not just their time but their friendship, that we can keep helping refugees all over the UK.
To volunteer in the UK visit care4calais.org/uk