Reuniting Families

97. Jenny Barrett (London)

An inspirational student from Tower Hamlets, East London helps to reunite families separated through conflict.

Jenny Barrett is a dedicated volunteer for the international family tracing service at the British Red Cross. Jenny’s interest in reuniting families stems from her academic work having recently completed a Masters in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at University of Oxford.

The international family tracing service at the British Red Cross works to restore contact between families who have been separated due to conflict or natural disaster.  Last year, in London alone, the service responded to around 700 new enquiries and opened 185 new tracing cases. Jenny contributes to this work by interviewing people from all over the world who have been separated from their loved ones, helping them to fill out tracing request forms, and conducting local searches. Jenny spends a total of 70 hours a month volunteering, and is also a Samaritans ‘listener’ and a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institute’s (RNLI) volunteer crew on the River Thames.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“When families are separated by war or disaster, the desperate search for lost loved ones can take months or even years. Jenny’s vital work with the British Red Cross helps to heal the wounds of conflict. I am delighted to name Jenny a Point of Light for her incredibly important work.”

James Wilson, Jenny’s manager at the Red Cross, said:

“Jenny radiates energy, enthusiasm and a clear passion for assisting our beneficiaries.  She is an exceptionally positive person but is also very sensitive in the way in which she works directly with sometimes very vulnerable people who may – understandably – be highly distressed when talking about their separation from loved ones.  

“Jenny has managed to absorb a vast amount of service-specific information and already mentors newer volunteers, passing on her knowledge and supporting them with difficult situations that can arise.  Her expertise, sensitivity and dedication make her a highly-valued volunteer.”

Jenny says:

“A considerable number of people go missing in situations of conflict or disaster. The International Family Tracing service at the British Red Cross helps to search for these individuals and reunited loved ones. I am honoured to be one of many dedicated volunteers who supports this important work.”

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse said:

“I am delighted to hear that Jenny has won the Point of Light Award. She is an outstanding individual and her commitment to helping others is truly inspiring.

“The organisations that she helps are the core of our community and the work that they do is enhanced by her amazing efforts.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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