1718. Helen Brannigan
Helen Brannigan, from London, is a former primary school teacher who set up ‘RefugeeEd’, a charity which provides free teacher training, mentoring and resources for refugee education providers in Greece.
Helen set up ‘RefugeeEd’ after spending time in Greece teaching, developing and setting up education programmes. While there she realised how important education is in a crisis, providing structure, hope, opportunity and community. She was also amazed at the compassion in the grassroots education providers, and saw the need for more collaboration between providers and with experienced teachers, to strengthen the education on offer. Through its teacher training and mentoring programmes, ‘RefugeeEd’ has supported learning opportunities for over 4,500 children and adults, with a particular focus on improving literacy and language skills for refugees. Throughout the pandemic, the charity continued to offer training, mentoring and community knowledge-sharing sessions online, and has developed a training programme for teachers from within refugee communities.
In a personal letter to Helen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I was inspired to learn of ‘RefugeeEd’ and how you are using your professional skills as a teacher to help others.
“You have given the gift of learning to over 4,500 children and adults across Greece. In doing so, you are imparting vital language skills, as well as building a sense of community amongst pupils.”
In response to receiving the award, Helen said:
“This award is a great honour, and a testament to the incredible dedication of our trustees and field team working to improve education for refugees and migrants in Greece. As recent events in Afghanistan have shown, the refugee crisis is still very much here. Everyone fleeing persecution deserves an education so they can build a new life. When the pandemic struck, international volunteers were unable to come out to meet this need. Instead, residents in camps took the lead, teaching others within their communities, and we have developed a training programme to support them. We’re grateful for the opportunity to highlight our work and the continuing importance of education in times of emergency.”