Dr Karen Henderson has enjoyed a successful career both practising and researching in her field of expertise (Perinatal Care). Karen has travelled the globe over her career, advising Governments, medical and nursing groups, and helping to shape advances in the care of sick babies.
Growing up as a daughter of the manse in a farming community outside Bushmills, Karen learned to knit and sew as a little girl. But, having moved back to NI a few years ago, Karen has had a little more time to indulge in a passion which she learned while volunteering in the slums in Thailand – using crafts to help and support women and communities. This ignited something in Karen and ‘Birdsong Stitches’ was borne.
Karen produces beautiful craft pieces and shares her knowledge and love of crafting with her online following, and in the local community. It is through her creative reputation that she got involved in making protective wear for the NI Scrubs Causeway Coast. If stitching morning to night wasn’t enough, she volunteered to go back to work in the COVID crisis and is now also working in an Intensive Care Unit, putting herself very much on the front line during this crisis.
Karen is well known for her compassion and drive for those in need, regularly travelling to Greece to work in refugee camps. For the past 4 years Karen has been at the forefront in developing a support system for over 100,000 men, women and children who have fled their homes in search of a better life and find themselves struggling to survive day by day in the camps in Greece. Karen and her team have created Agapo Refugee Aid (https://www.facebook.com/agapo.co.uk), a non-profit organisation which requires constant fund raising , recruiting help and support. Karen leads regular trips to Moira Camp in Lesvos, distributing much needed vitamins, but believes ‘Providing support, creating moments for fun and showing Gods love is as much a part of the volunteers’ Christian mission as the distribution of medical aid’.
Karen believes the work of the NI Scrubs Causeway Coast is extremely valuable and …’must continue for the foreseeable future. There is huge demand coming from many people working on the front line and requests for protective wear are received daily by the co-ordinators of the group. For it to remain productive they must raise more funds. The Causeway Chefs 4 NHS fundraiser came along at the right time and already the Chefs have transferred some of their donations to allow for the purchase of materials but projections look like more funds will be needed’.
Juggling production with working in the hospital, Karen finds sewing therapeutic although it is not without its challenges.
“My first set of scrubs was quite time-consuming and there was a lot of ripping out of stitches, but I have mastered it now and I am also getting direct requests for masks, which I’m trying my best to deliver. I’ve recruited my daughter and my best friend who are now also making scrubs. This group is an incredible local initiative and it is a wonderful opportunity to support the community and provide vital help during these extraordinary times.”
Donations can be made on this Just Giving site – Causeway-chefs-4-NHS.. The Bushmills Trust, a registered charity based in Bushmills will be managing the funds on behalf of this collaborative group and proceeds will go to the NI Scrubs Causeway Coast.
To Donate please click on https://bit.ly/3bhlq58
(Author Stella Bolton)