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Jobs from the Reach files - 18

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In this regular series Olive Braman tells how volunteers can use their skills and expertise through REACH, the charity that places professional and business people in part time voluntary jobs

You can find all the Jobs From the REACH Files articles from the Volunteering Index

Helping troubled children

Anne Brau, retired occupational therapist, will shortly be travelling to India, as part of her work as a volunteer. She will be there for four months, in a rehabilitation centre for children whose lives have been torn apart by violence.

Anne, along with her colleague Pauline Low are two key workers for the Oxford based charity, Action for Children in Conflict (AfC). In retirement, both wanted to make the best use of the skills and experience they had acquired in their working lives, and they found their posts with AfC through REACH, the charity which helps professional people to find appropriate voluntary work.

Both have important roles with the charity. Pauline Low is a trustee and a counsellor, Anne Brau is their rehabilitation advisor.  Before retirement, Pauline was human resources manager for Burmah Castrol Trading Company  and  Anne Brau was the rehabilitation adviser for the Leonard Cheshire Homes. 

AfC is a small charity but it brings immeasurable benefits to a sadly growing number of children. It works to break cycles of violence, hatred and despair by helping the most vulnerable of victims –children all over the world who may have seen rape, murder, torture, mutilation, or may have been victims of these atrocities themselves.

Those who work with the AfC are hopeful that they can ease the fear and pain.  “Children have the greatest capacity to transcend conflict and to bring about change in the future, but their suffering may sometimes be forgotten in the current climate of hostility towards asylum-seekers,” says Peter Tyrer, the founder of AfC. “We offer them ‘safe havens’ where they can begin to rebuild their lives.”

He enlists volunteers like Anne and  Pauline who are aware that the mental and physical wounds they encounter may have an effect not only on the individual child, but also society, for many years.  “So it must be both humane and in the best interests of society to do our utmost to help them.”

AfC has been involved with projects in Bosnia, Kosovo, Fiji, South Africa and Western Sahara. In Kenya, the charity recently opened the Centre for Good Future, a home for girls. In London, it provides a school-based mental health service and is developing a similar service for refugee children at a number of schools in East Oxford.

“AfC  depends on the work of its volunteers,” says Pauline. “In helping children who have been damaged by terrible events outside their control we can give them some hope for the future. Those who are traumatised by their experiences and have had to leave their own country need all the counselling and support we can offer. I am delighted that, despite having been retired for some years, my professional skills can still be put to good use.”

For further information about REACH : telephone local area manager Freddy Clarke on 01235 833 298 or REACH HQ on 020 7582 6543: website  

To contact Action for Children in Conflict, telephone 01865 821380: website:


Look out for future features from Olive Braman on Jobs From The REACH Files or view all the REACH Files Articles from our Volunteering Index


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