He­len is on a mis­sion to help child refugees

Hol­i­day sparks vol­un­teer­ing stint at cafe in Athens

Blairgowrie Advertiser - - NEWS - Clare Damodaran

A big-hearted Blair­gowrie woman is off to Athens this week­end to vol­un­teer with a char­ity that sup­ports refugee chil­dren in Greece.

He­len Docherty (51) was in­spired to do some­thing to help af­ter she saw refugees in the Greek cap­i­tal while on a re­cent hol­i­day to the pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion.

She ex­plained: “We go through Pi­raeus port reg­u­larly and last time we were there I saw a man with all his be­long­ings and when we came back 10 days later af­ter a lovely hol­i­day on the is­lands he was still there.

“We saw lots of chil­dren as well, kids whose shoes didn’t fit, and I thought I needed to some­thing about it.

“When I get an idea I can’t shake it off so I looked up vol­un­teer­ing in Athens on­line and heaps of op­por­tu­ni­ties came up.

“Through that I got my­self and my friend from Dublin a vol­un­teers’ job and ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

He­len and her friend will be work­ing in the Hope Cafe in Athens, which aims to pro­vide nu­tri­tious meals for those un­able to sup­port them­selves in Athens.

They will be there for two weeks ini­tially, which is the rec­om­mended length of time for first-time vol­un­teers.

He­len, who used to run a pizza shop in Blair­gowrie, said: “There are a lot of refugees in Athens and on the is­lands and the cafe of­fers free food dur­ing the day and then takes food to the refugee camps at night.

“I think we’ll prob­a­bly be cook­ing in the cafe but we won’t know for sure un­til we get there and see what they need us to do.

“We’re pay­ing for our trip our­selves but I’ve also been fundrais­ing be­fore we go as I want to take some money with us to spend it when we are out there on what­ever is needed - whether that is dish­cloths or kitchen uten­sils for the cafe or shoes for the chil­dren I don’t know.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to know what to ex­pect but we want to do as much to help as we can while we are out there.”

As part of her fundrais­ing ef­forts, He­len held a bingo tea in Blair­gowrie Bowl­ing Club last week which raised over £400.

She said: “I would like to thank ev­ery­one who came to the bingo tea and ev­ery­one who do­nated prizes, in­clud­ing the Dal­more Inn, Tesco, Vi­tal­ity, the Co-op and Apso. Thanks also to Betty Mar­shall who has helped me so much with this.

“This is the first time I have done any­thing like this, al­though I was in­volved in the Re­lay for Life in Blair­gowrie a few years ago.

“I’m feel­ing ex­cited and ner­vous but will make sure all the cash goes to wor­thy causes out there.”

Meal maker He­len Docherty (right), pic­tured with Betty Mar­shall at her fundrais­ing bingo tea in Blair­gowrie last week, is head­ing to Athens to help refugee chil­dren in the city

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