Mother moved by child refugee crisis stages fashion fundraiser
An inspirational mother is hoping to use her sense of style to help thousands of refugee children.
Diane Duffy from Belfast has been so moved by the plight of those stranded in camps across Europe, she has organised a huge fashion event in the city to raise vital funds.
The mother-of-one - who volunteers with the Northern Ireland Community of Refugees & Asylum Seekers (Nicras) - said: "I had wanted to go to Calais or Greece to do something practical, but with a young baby that was just not possible.
"But, the more I saw or read about displaced children living in these dire conditions and dying trying to get into the UK to other relatives, the more I felt compelled to do something."
The Fashion Conscious event at RBG Park Inn, Belfast, on Thursday October 6, will include a fashion pop-up shop where dozens of donated designer clothes, shoes and bags will be up for grabs for just a few pounds.
Money raised will go to humanitarian charities, Help Refugees and the Greek-based group Project Hope 4 Kids, which are delivering crucial aid to those caught up in the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Mrs Duffy continued: "I just cannot imagine, as a mother, having to put a child on to a boat to cross the Mediterranean Sea or having to go into a boat while being pregnant or with a baby.
"It is just mind-blowing that the only option these people have appears to be death or risk of death.
"Their situation is hopeless no matter what way you look at it."
The conflict in Syria has created almost five million refugees.
According to the UN's refugee agency, so far this year 300,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe and more than 3,200 have died or gone missing. Tens of thousands are struggling to survive in appalling conditions on the borders of Greece, Italy and France.
Last week, hundreds of people took part in a rally at Stormont demanding a better international response.
Mrs Duffy, whose daughter Arabella is just 19 months old, said: "Obviously this is a huge global crisis but everyone can do their bit to help.
"If I can help just one family then it will be worth it."
Tickets for Fashion Conscious are priced £10 each and are available online from https://getinvited.to/fashion-conscious/fashionconscious-2016/.
Entry can also be paid at the door.
- More details can be found on the event's community Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FashionConscious2016