10 May 2016
The Prince of Wales met Syrian refugees and Red Cross volunteers and staff in Islington yesterday.
Prince Charles, who is President of the British Red Cross, visited our refugee services hub to hear about how our services are helping people in crisis and to bestow a long-serving volunteer with a special honour.
Ninety-year-old Audrey Tibbles received a certificate of commendation for her incredible 73-year service record with the charity from the Prince of Wales.
Miss Tibbles started volunteering with the British Red Cross on 29th July 1943. She was Commandant of the City of London for more than 30 years between 1956-1987.
She was on duty at both Her Majesty's Coronation and Sir Winston Churchill's funeral, and continued to carry out first aid duties until 2000.
Since then, rather than retire, Miss Tibbles has continued to support the British Red Cross’s fundraising team.
Syrian refugee stories
The Prince of Wales also spent time with Syrian refugee Sleman Shwaish. Sleman, 28, fled Aleppo, Syria in 2012 and is now a refugee service co-ordinator with the British Red Cross, running a project for refugee men.
Sleman said: “It was an honour to meet the Prince of Wales and he was interested to hear about my own personal story as a refugee, as well as the great work that the British Red Cross does all over the UK, supporting refugees and asylum seekers”.
He also spoke with the Al Sharki family who we helped to reunite after they were separated fleeing Aleppo in Syria. Last year, Mousa travelled to the UK, while his pregnant wife Rajaa and children went to Lebanon, where she gave birth to baby Omar.
Due to an error on their infant son’s passport, they were forced to leave their son in Lebanon when he was only eight months old. Thankfully, following a request from the British Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Beirut helped to get baby Omar the exit visa he needed to get to the UK.
'A proud history'
Alex Fraser, Director of Refugee Services and Restoring Family Links, said: “We were thrilled to have HRH The Prince of Wales visit our London refugee services. It means a great deal to people like Mousa and Sleman for him to take the time out to listen to their stories and hear about the challenges that they have overcome, and those they continue to face.”
“The British Red Cross has a long and proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers. This is reflected in the stories that HRH The Prince of Wales heard today – from Jean who fled persecution in Kenya in the early 1990s, to Mousa and his family who recently escaped Syria. The reasons they left may have been different, but the issues and difficulties they have faced are often the same.”