Sophie Offord

Posts by Sophie Offord:

The man who took on the Nazis with a needle

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Black and white photo of a smiling POW taken by the Red Cross for his family

The Red Cross took this photo in March 1943 for Alexis’ family

Prisoner of war, top-secret spy and subversive stitcher – Cas certainly lived a full life. But his daughter had no idea about half of it, until she found a mysterious box in the attic.  

Please note: this article contains swear words

An 85-year-old man wanders along a Greek seafront. He looks with interest at an open-air exhibition: huge, blown-up photos of a World War Two battle on this very island from 50 years earlier.

One photo shows a sea of weary men, bracing themselves for years of German capture. Only one face is turned, looking straight at the camera.

The elderly man stops. He lets out a gasp.

At this point in the story, his daughter leans forward to tell me: “He had an extraordinary gift for being photographed.” More

A refugee’s story: 20 years of looking for the people you love

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Safet Alic 2

Safet was left starved, bruised and shattered by the Bosnian War. Now a refugee in the UK, he has looked for his loved ones over the last 20 years. Today, the war has long passed – but people are going missing once more in the Balkans.

“They came over with heavy artillery tanks and took our town – killing people, burning houses, taking our stuff. The town was almost razed to the ground. They even killed my grandfather, who was 93.”

Safet Alic is remembering the horrific events that unfolded when he was just 21.

A Bosnian Muslim, Safet grew up in a tight-knit community of friends and family, against a backdrop of growing ethnic tensions and economic problems.

When war broke out across the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the civilian population in Bosnia was attacked by armed forces.

Looking back on that day, Safet says: “I consider myself very lucky to have survived.”

But the price of survival was a march to a concentration camp. More

The day that everything changed for this refugee girl

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Drawing of refugee family home in Syria

When a rocket shattered their home and injured their daughter, Mohammad and Kamaar’s family fled Syria. They thought it would be a short-term move until the fighting stopped.

Three years later, they are living in Glasgow – talking to photographer Conor Ashleigh about starting over as refugees.

Before the war in Syria, Mohammad, Kamaar and their seven children lived a wonderful life.

Mohammad was a very successful businessman. His thriving company employed 25 people. He provided for his family and was proud he could help so many in his community when they were in need.

Mohammad today.

Mohammad shows me photos of his house. A house is an understatement – it is an absolute dream home.

But after building it and living there for only six months, a rocket attack destroyed the house.

The blast left one of his little girls almost completely deaf.

Very quickly, the family’s dream life had become a nightmare.

Please donate to our Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.

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Refugee families – how to move on after war and heartache

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Sri Lanka refugee family Glasgow 1

Photographer Conor Ashleigh spent six weeks getting to know refugee families from around the world. They were all split up on long and desperate journeys, before finally reuniting in Glasgow to start their lives over. Now Conor reflects on some of their moving stories and friendships.

Starting a new life in a new country is always difficult. I recently moved to Scotland from Australia.

But, unlike the families I’ve been photographing for a British Red Cross project, I chose to come here.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent time with families from Syria, Iran and Sri Lanka. These families didn’t have the freedom to choose between staying at home and leaving for the UK. Nor do they know when, if at all, they can return home.  More

Run the London Marathon in seven steps

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Runner celebrates after completing the London Marathon for the British Red CrossThe London Marathon ballot has closed: are you in or out? If you didn’t get a place, you can run with Team Red Cross. Apply to run the London Marathon 2016.

If you were one of the lucky folk who got a place, why not use your run to raise money for a fantastic cause? All your training can help people in crisis when you fundraise for the British Red Cross.

Demelza ran for Team Red Cross this year. If you’re running in 2016, read her seven top tips for taking on one of the world’s biggest – and best – races.

STEP ONE

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Stories from the refugees on Europe’s doorstep

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Refugees give their details to Red Cross family tracing teams as they arrive in SicilyThe weather is turning but for refugees, there is no going back. Many people feel they have no choice but to brave the cold and make the treacherous journey to Europe. 

Most of the world’s refugees aren’t in Europe, but those that do head here face long and difficult journeys.

They often travel across multiple countries to get to their destination – places where they already have family or their job skills are needed.

Red Cross volunteers are supporting people in all of the countries they pass through. We’re often the first ones to offer some comfort and help. We’re there in that extraordinary moment as you cross the border: one of fear and elation, exhaustion and hope.

Here are just some of the stories we’re hearing.

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The refugee doctor who can’t wait to help you

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Amir refugee Sudan doctor

Amir was living a happy and ordinary life in Sudan. He was married with children and had a good job. But a few years ago, he was forced to flee after being tortured, stabbed and left for dead.

Amir Ali Bob lives in the UK with his wife Wegdan and their five children, aged 5 to 13.

Before fleeing Sudan as refugees, Amir was an obstetrician and Wegdan a GP. They are now doing whatever they can to practise as doctors again – taking exams, improving their English – so they can help the country the family now call home.

But how did they get to this point? Amir tells us their story. More

The man who’s putting himself in a refugee’s shoes

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David after a rainy walk

Think your commute’s a bit rough? Well, David has given up trains and buses and now walks the 12-mile journey home after work. But it’s not in protest of public transport – it’s all to raise money for refugees.  

David Farrow has a busy, demanding job. For the last four years, he has been working as a medical photographer at Epsom and St Helier hospitals in Surrey.

But after he clocks off work, he now faces a daily challenge before he can go home, eat some dinner and switch on a box set.

Whenever he can, he walks the three-and-a-half hour journey home to where he lives in Reigate.

Why? David is raising money for refugees. He’s doing it by covering the distance someone from Syria would have to walk from Damascus to London, in the anxious search for a safer home.

And he has another 4,060 kilometres (2,523 miles) to go.

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