City sends help for victims of Ebola virus

Rebecca Stretch from Carnforth, who is travelling to Sierra Leone to help Ebola victims.
Rebecca Stretch from Carnforth, who is travelling to Sierra Leone to help Ebola victims.

A Lancaster man and a nurse from Carnforth have travelled abroad to work with victims of the deadly Ebola virus.

Alistair Short is a country director for aid agency Concern Worldwide.

Originally from Cumbria but now living in Lancaster, Alistair is currently based in Liberia and is working on the charity’s response to the Ebola crisis.

The death toll from Ebola virus, now in three capital cities and spreading, stands at more than 1,300.

Alistair is overseeing activities including education on the risk factors for infection and teaching people how to protect themselves, printing and disseminating awareness posters and factsheets suitable for all levels of literacy, establishing handwashing stations where people can properly wash and disinfect their hands and the provision of personal protective equipment to health facilities.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Stretch, who was born and bred in Carnforth, will work with the World Health Organisation to train people in hospitals in war-torn Sierra Leone on how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

She said: “If somebody doesn’t help people there, then who will? We can’t just put a fence up and ignore the problem. It is dangerous but I am not reckless.

“I think I will be safe but things can go wrong even if you take the right precautions.

“Last time I went to Sierra Leone it was one of the most dangerous places on earth.

“This time is different – it is not a case of people purposefully harming people but a disease and all the suffering that brings.”

Rebecca, who is the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust deputy director of infection prevention and control, said: “It’s a huge problem but you can only deal with a small part of it. You come back feeling bad that you couldn’t do more.”

Rebecca went to Carnforth High and then Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School.