At the age of seven I moved from Bitterne in Southampton to Chandler’s Ford, and in 2004, at the age of 20, my husband and I moved to Wales. The people in Wales have a huge pride in their country and that’s what I loved most about living there.
In 2009, after a wonderful time living and working in Wales, we moved back home with our son Samuel in tow. In fact we moved to the exact close that I grew up in, just a few doors away from my old bungalow. We were welcomed home with the open arms of our wonderful neighbours that I’d known almost all my life, and I felt that same pride in my community that the Welsh had in theirs.
After having our second son Thomas in 2012 I became a full time stay-at-home Mum. After having children I became very sensitive to what was happening in the news, and would get extremely upset by all the bad things happening in the world.
My husband actually banned me from watching Comic Relief as I’d always become an uncontrollable mess after watching the deeply upsetting stories, which more often than not involved children. I found it impossible to watch all the sadness, then go and make a cup of tea and switch off to what I’d just seen.
The first fundraiser I did was in 2008, when my first son was two. I’d watched Comic Relief (when my husband was out) and heard the story of a mother in Nigeria who knew her baby son had malaria. She’d walked for days with her very unwell infant, and just as she reached a clinic, her baby boy died in her arms.
I felt heartbroken, and later absolutely outraged that a mosquito net, that prevents so many deaths, only costs £2.50. For the sake of £2.50 that baby boy’s life could have been spared.
So my sister and I ran up and back down the 886 metre mountain ‘Pen-Y-Fan’ in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. We raised £500 which bought 200 mosquito nets, and although that only helped a tiny percentage of the people in Nigeria, I felt that we’d at least tried.
After that I did the Race for Life and later ran the Great South Run in aid of Ben’s Heroes, a children’s cancer charity.
In 2013 the Philippines were hit by typhoon Haiyan. I quickly posted a status on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to join me in organising a fundraiser to raise money for ShelterBox, a charity sending their volunteers to the worst affected areas to deliver tents and life-saving aid.
A few mums at our local school got on board and together, in the space of two weeks, we had organised a big fundraiser to be held in the Fryern Junior school hall. The event raised £600 in two hours.
Syria isn’t that far away
Now my attention is very much drawn to Syria. It is only in the last year that I realised what was happening and why, but the huge wake-up call came on the 21st of August last year when I learnt of the horrific chemical weapon attack that had taken place just slightly east of Damascus, and again later at an adjoining district called Zamalka.
People, with no visible wounds, were left gasping for breath, they were disorientated and had a burning sensation in their eyes, many were physically sick before becoming unconscious and dying.
The worst affected were young children, and images of dead children laid out in rows were etched into my brain. By the end of that day, as the sun set over Syria, 1,300 people had lost their lives.
Where is the help for Syria?
I became a woman obsessed after that. I needed to know everything that was happening. I joined websites and checked the news daily, needing to know how things were. Every day became a little bit more depressing, because everyday people in Syria were being killed.
Thousands of people were leaving Syria each day, but many weren’t making it to their destination, places like Jordon, as they were being shot down or badly beaten at border crossings. They didn’t have a choice but to try though, as their once loved home was now rubble. Bombs were going off continuously, nowhere was safe.
I couldn’t understand why the outside world didn’t seem to care. The people of Syria have been suffering for three long years! Where is the help? Maybe the sad fact is because Syria has nothing that we would consider valuable to us as a country.
To me Syria isn’t that far away. Horrific things are happening to our fellow human beings, and I can’t sit back and say “that’s sad, but you can’t save everyone”.
It’s true you can’t save everyone, but I live in a country that gives more money to animal charities than it does people charities each year, and that makes me feel ashamed to be human.
Banksy’s iconic “Girl with the Red Balloon”: picture of hope
The With Syria campaign started as a form of remembrance. In March this year people from all over the world joined together to just pay their respects and remember. It marked three years of when the conflict first began in Syria.
The symbol used was the street artist Banksy’s iconic Girl with the red balloon.
Thousands of people took photos of themselves holding up red balloons and posted them to a website in the hope that some Syrian people would see, and know that they’ve not been forgotten.
With Syria Community fundraiser for ShelterBox
This sparked the idea in me about holding a With Syria community fundraiser. What began as a small idea back in March, quickly spiralled into a much bigger event.
The community, on the whole, have been very supportive and want to get involved. I’ve had a few people slam down phones and I have sent countless emails that have been ignored, but I’ve learnt that that’s always inevitable.
I am raising the money for the charity ShelterBox again. They have always been incredibly helpful and the aid they distribute is fantastic. They don’t just give emergency aid then move on.
Instead, they recognise the importance of helping families start again, so ShelterBox provide them with the advice and equipment that they need to actually live, not just survive. Young ShelterBox also do a lot of work with schools and scout groups, which also fits in well with our community.
Fundraising on Sunday 10th August in Chandler’s Ford
I am hoping that on Sunday 10th August (on the Fryern recreation ground in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire) we’ll have a fabulous turn out, and raise lots of money for the people of Syria, because I know that the wonderful people of Chandler’s Ford care just as much as I do.
The website address for the fundraiser is: With Syria Community Fundraiser
You can also donate through Justgiving: Nicky Head is fundraising for ShelterBox
Your donation will go directly to ShelterBox. If you are able to attend on the day of the fundraiser then you can meet our ShelterBox spokesperson and see one of the tents and the equipment that is given out.