Mother who helped refugees on her break to Kos returning next year


A mother-of-three who spent her summer holiday to Kos helping refugees fleeing war-torn Syria has said she is planning on making the same trip next year.

Rachel Miller, 39, flew out with suitcases of supplies including sun cream, nappies, sanitary products and clothing to hand out to homeless families amid the growing refugee crisis on the island over the summer.

She said the conditions were "heartbreaking" and feared the flow of refugees coming into Europe via Turkey and Greece would continue next summer.

The International Organisation for Migration said around a million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, with many choosing to make the treacherous journey from Turkey to Greek islands by boat.

Mrs Miller, from Nottingham, met her Kurdish husband in Turkey, and visited a Turkish refugee camp in May while visiting relatives and was struck by the "horrifying" stories of Yezidi communities escaping war.

But she said the main turning point in deciding to help refugees came when she attended the funeral of former Royal Marine Konstandinos Erik Scurfield - the first Briton to be killed fighting against Islamic State after fighting with the Kurds.

Mrs Miller said: "It was a funeral I thought few people would attend, I read about this young lad and he had gone to fight against Isis and had been killed and his funeral was quite close to my house so I went and it just changed me. 

"I thought whatever I have done in my life for anyone, I've not done very much compared to his standard."

She was intending to take a family holiday on Kos in August, but soon her plans changed in light of the growing problem on the island.

"There was no way that I could go and have a holiday lying on a sunbed when there was someone just metres away who was hungry," she said.

"I used to be a social worker, and I thought I'll be all right and that I couldn't possibly see or hear anything worse than I had before, but it broke me.

"I saw grown men eating food from the road, I saw food put out for street cats being eaten by a man.

"I came back and thought it's not finished."

She returned to Kos in October and said plans were already afoot to see how she could help next year.

She said: "People are desperate. It's dire everywhere. Where do they go? Turkey isn't safe for many of them.

"People don't care where they go, they just want to be safe. 

"I'm already collecting for containers to go over there and help and I'll be doing what I can because I can't stand by and let it happen."