“I felt like it’s now or never,” said Rachel Phoenix, explaining her decision to run the London Marathon for the first time.
The 34-year-old is relatively new to London. The marathon is her way of conquering the city.
Over the last year, Rachel has played a key role in the Red Cross’ work to reunite refugee children stuck in Europe with their families in the UK.
“I always say to people that it’s easy to objectify refugees,” Rachel said, “to forget that they are human beings like the rest of us.
“I went to Dunkirk [refugee camp] a couple of weeks ago. The scenes were harrowing.”
Running to reunite families
Rachel, from Norwich, took on the challenge of the London Marathon to raise awareness of the issues facing refugees and families torn apart.
The money Rachel is raising will be channelled into her own area of work – family reunion.
“I remember one older man whose family had been stuck overseas for some time,” said Rachel.
“We were a bit worried about his health. When we broke the good news over the phone that his family would join him in the UK there was silence on the other end of the line.
“But then he said: ‘I’m so happy, I put the phone down to jump up and down on the bed!’”
Our travel assistance programme funds travel for the children and spouses of refugees who have come to the UK, often fleeing very dangerous living conditions.
Without the help of the Red Cross, such people would remain separated from their loved ones, and could not escape the danger of living in a war-torn country.
Travel assistance costs on average £500 per person. Rachel is hoping her run will pay for six people to be reunited with their families.
“I would encourage others to do the London Marathon,” said Rachel. “It’s a really good test of endurance and it is making me more aware of the important reasons why I am doing this for the Red Cross.
“Many times I have thought about quitting, but then I remember the money that I have raised and the reason I’m raising it.
“If it was easy there wouldn’t be any point to it. I keep thinking about getting across the finish line – that is going to be amazing.”