In My New Role, Children Across the World Who Face Violence, Disease, Hunger and the Chaos of War Are at the Front of My Mind

06/01/2016 08:27 | Updated 12 January 2016

This year, I am thrilled to step into my new role as president of Unicef UK, the world's leading children's organisation. It's a real privilege to follow in the footsteps of Lord Paddy Ashdown who has been in the position for the last six years.

As we welcome in the New Year and reflect on another Christmas filled with family, friends, food and presents, it's easy to forget about those who are less fortunate than us. This year, in my new role for Unicef UK, children across the world who face violence, disease, hunger and the chaos of war are at the front of my mind.

As a mother, it's utterly heart breaking to think about how many children face these issues and I am determined to help do something about it. I'm so proud to become the president of Unicef UK, which works tirelessly to ensure more of the world's children are fed, vaccinated, educated and protected than any other organisation.

It's hard not to think of the children of Syria and how much hardship they face. Over six and a half million children in Syria and across the region are in urgent need of aid. Inside Syria the picture is bleak. Up to a million children are trapped by fighting inside the country, cut off from lifesaving supplies. In countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, more than one and a half million child refugees are struggling to cope in terrible conditions.

The personal stories of these children should not be forgotten, I recently heard about sisters Marwa and Aya who were forced to flee Syria when their town was shelled and their school was hit by a bomb.


Marwa, 13, says: "Life in Syria before the war was serene. Life was absolutely perfect and we feared nothing at all."

"I loved school but then it was hit by a rocket and burnt down. Things have changed dramatically since then, there was no school and no lessons and bombs started falling near where we lived. My mother was very protective of us because our father had died and there was no one else.


"My brother told my mother that she must flee Syria and take us all to Jordan for safety."

Marwa and Aya are back at school thanks to Unicef supported classes in Za'atari refugee camp.


Marwa says: "We didn't know how long the war would last. I kept crying and telling my mother I wanted to go home. But I felt much better once I went back school and my sister and I started attending lessons again. School is really important to me and I enjoy it a lot."


"I don't like missing school because I don't want my lack of education to affect my future. When I grow up I would like to become a lawyer so I can defend my country and help all those who have suffered injustice."

As I settle into my new role, I look forward to working on projects that will help shine a light on children like Marwa and Aya and the danger they face.

You can help and support by donating to Unicef UK's appeal for the children of Syria at Donations to Unicef UK's Syria winter appeal will be doubled by the UK Government, meaning that your gift will go even further to help save more children's lives this winter