Like everybody else, the staff here at Healthcare Learning have been watching with increasing dismay at the sheer scale of the refugee crisis as it continues to unfold before our eyes everyday on TV. Away from talk of politics, quotas and immigration limits, the team here came together to do what we could to help these people fleeing their home in search of a better life. And thanks to a very determined Office Manager, and an extremely helpful Qualifications Manager, Healthcare Learning was able to do our own small, modest bit to try and make a difference to those who need our help the most.
Having come across the great work that CalAid are doing to refugees urgently need in Calais refugee camps, our office manager, Terri Butler, generously gave up her time to coordinate our efforts from start to finish. Researching what the refugees were most in need of, she gave us a list that included everything from basic hygiene supplies to items of clothing – all urgently required by the thousands of refugees who have fled their homes. Although many generous donations had meant their requirement for women and children’s clothes was not particularly high, they still desperately needed jackets, socks, belts and shoes. Furthermore, everyday necessities like soap, shampoo and other toiletries were in very short supply across the refugee camps.
Given clear instructions, and a time limit of 10 days, the Healthcare Learning team rose to the challenge. Some brought shoes and jeans. Others brought pots and pans. Some gave money. Given our special relation to dentistry, everyone’s first thought was to donate a toothbrush (which also led to us donating an awful lot of toothpaste – positive messages about oral health should get out as much as possible!). I’m sure some members of the team got odd, quizzical looks on their daily commutes when they were bringing in the sleeping bags and tents into Central London on a Tuesday morning. Many came into the office in the build up to the deadline and just dropped their donations in the corner, not paying attention to the sheer mountain of stuff that was building. When it came to organising it, and getting it ready to go last Friday, it became clear just how much we’d managed to raise.
Toothbrushes, toothpaste, candles, belts, hates, socks, tents, sleeping bags, and much more. It was a nice, worthwhile example of how much people can achieve when they come together for a good cause such as this one. The sheer amount of stuff brought an unexpected problem, however, how were we going to move this stuff and bring it to the donation centre. Unfortunately for us, to make the next shipment of supplies over we needed to bring all our stuff to Slough that Sunday afternoon. Rather selflessly stepping up to the plate without even being asked, our Qualifications Manager, Joe Ackah (anyone who’s seen our MSc webinars might recognise him) volunteered to come in on Sunday, load his car with all of the supplies and deliver it to Slough (he lives in Essex, and even on a Sunday this writer wouldn’t brave the M25).
Our donation should now have made its way to Calais, and we hope that this modest contribution has helped even a few people in this most trying of times for them. The editorial team would like to take this opportunity to express a sincere thanks to Terri and Joe for taking the lead on this and getting us all into gear so we could help out those in greatest need. We’d also implore anyone in a position to do something to help in their own way to the refugee crisis. Usually we find it hard to organise after-work drinks on a Friday evening, but here we were able to come together as a team to do something that will really benefit. Irrespective of your political beliefs, or thoughts on the issue, the simple act of helping those in need should be something we actively pursue, rather than shy away from. Dentistry has already led the way in delivering help to those who need it most, through the likes of Dentaid and Bridge2Aid, and the current crisis represents both a huge challenge and a massive opportunity – to do what we can. We can worry about the wider issues of numbers and illegally crossing borders later. Every sleeping bag, every toothbrush, every belt – they will go that tiny way to making someone’s life even slightly better. It’s a start.
The video below shows thescene when Joe arrived at the drop-off point in Slough. We clearly weren’t the only ones who had the same idea. Great to see such a tremendous response.