University researcher returns a changed person after working with refugees in Budapest

Date 12.11.2015

​​​​​​​A researcher from the University of Northampton says she has been profoundly affected by the plight of refugees after volunteering in Budapest.

Dr Saneeya Qureshi, PhD, a Researcher in the Institute for Social Innovation and Impact, spent last week at a conference in the Hungarian capital, but found some spare time to help refugees who were camped at Keleti Palyaudvar in the city.

The EU is facing a huge influx of migrants, many fleeing conflict and poverty in countries including Syria, with Budapest becoming a key stop-off point for those seeking refuge in Europe.

She said: “Their resilience and their zest for life, their humble gratitude and their positivity at having escaped the trauma and violence of their homes reduced me to speechlessness time and time again. At one point, two men and a woman came to comfort me when I turned away with tears in my eyes, not wanting them to witness my weakness in the face of their courage and their happy demeanours.

“These refugees have so much dignity. They’re so brave and positive. I’ll never forget them as long as I live. I think something inside me has changed forever.”

You can read Saneeya’s full account of her experience by visiting her blog.

Meanwhile, the University has set up collection points at both of its campuses to allow people to drop off items for refugees in Calais and Europe.

This is part of the Calais Action initiative, a grass roots giving movement, supported by volunteers who aim to provide support and raise awareness of the growing humanitarian crisis currently occurring.

Items which are badly needed at present are the following:

  • shoes – trainers, wellies or hiking books (no city leather shoes, no heels).  Most needed are men’s shoes (sizes 8-10)
  • tents (even incomplete)/ Covers / Tarpaulins
  • travelling bags
  • candles (or any other lighting equipment)
  • socks
  • belts
  • jackets (only small or medium, no wool)
  • tinned food (kidney beans, peas, chickpeas, carrots, green beans, no pasta)

The following items are also requested:

  • tracksuit trousers/ jeans (size 28-32)
  • hoodies/ waterproofs
  • shirts/ t-shirts
  • leggings / thermal tights (female)
  • underwear
  • sleeping bags/ duvets/ mattresses/ sleeping mats / blankets
  • wooly hats/ scarves/ gloves
  • toiletries (soap, shower gel, shampoo, toothbrush, razors, shaving foam, combs)
  • pots/ pans/ gas stoves/ plastic plates/ cups/ kettles (not electric)/ cleaning products/ sponges
  • plastic bags
  • mobile phones
  • books
  • wooden pallets/ thick plastic sheeting

The collection points are the Newton Building Reception (Avenue Campus) and the Senate Reception (Park Campus), during office hours.