Sunderland mum raises £25,000 for refugee children fleeing Syria

Bethany Usher with daughter Elodie
Bethany Usher with daughter Elodie
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A former Sunderland Echo reporter has raised more than £25,000 to help refugee children fleeing the war in Syria.

Bethany Usher, mum to Elodie, two, and seven-month-old Tobias, was so moved by images of children arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos, she set up a page online to buy “childhood bags”, containing toys, books and clothes.

Jango from Syria and his daughter Varia land with others migrants on the island of Lesbos, after crossing from Turkey to Greece, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Jango from Syria and his daughter Varia land with others migrants on the island of Lesbos, after crossing from Turkey to Greece, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015. The island of some 100,000 residents has been transformed by the sudden new population of some 20,000 refugees and migrants, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

“As a mum, it’s hard to comprehend having to leave everything you own behind and get into a boat with your children, to escape an army who would do the most horrendous things to them,” she said.

“I felt helpless and just wanted to do something.”

Bethany, now a journalism lecturer at Teesside University, previously ran the Echo’s Tonic for the Troops campaign to collect parcels for forces personnel serving in the Gulf.

“When I was at The Sunderland Echo, the thing I was most proud of was working on campaigns,” she said. “It’s something that has never left me.” She was overwhelmed by the response to an appeal which has seen support flood in from as far afield as the U.S. and smashed through the £25,000 barrier in little more than a day.

The situation in Lesbos is so desperate we need to access the cash to help.

Bethany Usher

“I was hoping to raise £20,000 in 30 days, but did it in 30 hours,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Bethany had originally planned to keep fund-raising, but the situation in Greece has become so critical she had been forced to close the page by lunchtime tomorrow.

“The situation in Lesbos is so desperate we need to access the cash to help,” she said.

To donate, visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/bethany-ogle-2.