Turkey-Syria earthquake: Reading's global community responds
14 February 2023
The earthquake that has shattered southern Turkey and northern Syria has affected many members of the University of Reading community - students, alumni, and staff.
For many Reading students and graduates, that's because either they or their families were living directly in the area hit by the quake. Others are directly responding to the emergency, whether raising funds or working directly on relief efforts.
As well as more than 100 current staff and students from Turkey and Syria, the University has many former students living and working in the region.
Josie Coxon, who graduated from Reading in 2002 with a degree in English with Film and Drama, is one of those helping directly with relief efforts, getting help to the communities that need it.
Josie is Director of Development and Communications at Relief International, an organisation that has had a presence in the region since the beginning of the Syrian civil war more than decade ago.
Help on the ground
There are 1,300 Relief International staff already working in the region, providing medical and mental health services at hospitals, rehabilitation centres and small clinics.
After the earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, Josie said her colleagues on the ground had been ‘completely overwhelmed’ by hospital admissions. Health and medical supplies are quickly depleting due to the unprecedented number of people needing emergency treatment.
Josie said: “Lots of colleagues have lost family members. In Syria, two of our staff have died, and further staff are still unaccounted for at this moment. Two are in hospital with very serious injuries.
“It's absolutely heartbreaking to see this crisis directly affect our colleagues and friends. But it’s really heartening to see how they are rallying together whilst they go through this crisis.”
Every donation makes a difference
Josie is responsible for raising funds for Relief International from the private sector and the general public. She joined the charity sector after originally working in TV production, after she decided she wanted to make a “positive impact on people’s lives.”
At the end of last week, 70% of the donations made to Relief International were from new donors, many of whom are from the United Kingdom.
“It’s been very encouraging seeing the response from the UK,” Josie said.
“Whether people are making a donation of £10 or £100, or £1,000, all of it will make the most enormous difference.
“Although the immediate response work is happening now and we are raising money for that, the recovery is going to be really long term. And even when it’s out of the headlines, these communities in Turkey and Syria will continue to need organisations like ours to provide assistance.”
How to help
Find out more about donations to Relief International.
You can also find out about the UK Disasters Emergency Committee’s Turkey-Syria earthquake appeal.
Share your story
University of Reading students have already raised thousands of pounds for relief efforts in Turkey and Syria, with more fundraising activities planned.
Many other members of our community – including alumni, students and staff – have been involved aid and relief efforts globally. Find out what the University of Reading alumni community has done in our online alumni magazine CONNECTED.
If you want to share your experiences, or highlight ways to support those efforts, we would be proud to share them. Please get in touch at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.