Red Cross volunteer Kate Bedding, 41, from Devon, has returned home after supporting people evacuated from Sudan.
Kate, who lives in Tiverton with her partner and teenage children, was part of a team of six British Red Cross volunteers who accompanied the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) Rapid Deployment Team in Cyprus. The team met people arriving in military aircraft from Sudan. The Cypriot Red Cross also distributed emergency bags containing towels, toothbrushes, water and food for people, many of whom arrived with very little. Around two thousand UK nationals have been evacuated so far.
Kate Bedding said: 'I met people who’d been through harrowing experiences. Some had relatives who’d been shot. They’d fled from shelling and waited at air bases for a week or more, without sleep or regular access to food and water. Some had left home with nothing at all.”'
As a psychosocial support team (PST) volunteer with the British Red Cross, Kate knew she was deploying to support British nationals being evacuated from Sudan, but it was only once she arrived at the airport that she heard she was going to Cyprus.
She and her team had been asked to join an FCDO rapid deployment team who were already in Cyprus to meet flights full of British nationals being evacuated under deteriorating conditions in Sudan.
It was the first deployment as a volunteer for Kate, who has also worked in the UK for the British Red Cross in her day job since 2019, as a learning and development manager in crisis response.
When British nationals are caught up in a crisis overseas, PST volunteers are specially trained to provide emotional and practical support which considers the holistic needs of people.
The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is supporting people both in Sudan and border countries. Sudan Red Crescent volunteers are providing first aid and medical support, and the International Committee of the Red Cross have shipped eight tonnes of aid to Sudan. Volunteers in Egypt, Chad and South Sudan are also helping people as they arrived across the borders.
Kate said: 'I’d do it all again tomorrow. People were so glad of our help. It was a really humbling, unique experience. To be a tiny part in someone’s journey to safety is so special.'
To donate to the British Red Cross Emergencies Fund for Sudan, click here.