Project Arkadas – Hatay Visit

A blind Syrian boy reading Arabic in brail in a Hatay Syrian support centre

I visited Hatay at the end of January 2020, with Syria Relief, to conduct a needs assessment for Project Arkadas. The project was scheduled to be delivered in summer 2020 by a group of volunteers however the Coronavirus pandemic has changed that, the delivery timetable may have changed but the principles of the project remain the same.

Project Arkadas’ vision is to provide a friendly, caring, helping hand to those who have been deprived through crises.

The first visit to Hatay, visiting Syrian support agencies and refugees, sowed the seed that I hope will develop into a force for good. I have no illusions about the challenges that will be presented along the way in trying to introduce a scheme that has no immediate benefit to beneficiaries.

On this first visit I delivered several boxes of donations direct to Syria Relief in Turkey and arranged for further boxes to be shipped to Syria.

I visited several centres and business initiatives and gained mutual agreement to deliver training to beneficiaries.

The training initiative will be called Partnership with UK Friendship Training and I am developing an action plan to take this forward.

Achievement and disappointment!

I ran the Hackney 1/2 marathon yesterday, the first ever in Hackney. This was a first for me too, I have never run a 1/2 marathon before and in the build up to the day I realised that perhaps I should have started small and built up to the event. I should have run in an organised 5k or 10k run before going for a 1/2 marathon. Fools rush in as they say.

IMG_8014The day dawned with the promise of a lovely summers day. I worried that it might be too hot and I wouldn’t manage the whole course, but if it had been cold I would have worried that the cold would hinder me. I was nervous that I would let myself down.

I decided to run for the British Heart Foundation because it is a cause close to my heart. My lovely brother Mem died in 2008 after a lifetime of heart problems and my lovely husband Jon has had a quadruple heart bypass. I hope that any money I raise will go towards helping those with the sort of problems that my brother and husband had.

I thoroughly enjoyed the run , the before and the after. The hardest part was the walk to the car park after running 21k. At the time it felt harder than the run itself. The very good thing about the Hackney 1/2 marathon is it is in London, it is spectator friendly and most importantly for the runner it is flat, no hills! Would I do it again? Maybe? Probably!


So this weekend I had a fantastic personal achievement that was inter-mingled with grief and remembering my much missed brother. I also had bad news, 2 days before the run I learnt that the free school bid that I have been involved in at Ashmole School had been unsuccessful.Locally we parents of young children were optimistic that there may be two new schools in the Southgate area and this now seems to have been taken away from us. SWEAT campaigners (a group that I chair) have been striving for increased primary school provision  for over a year and we are bitterly disappointed that despite our efforts there is no progress.

IMG_8463We will not be beaten!