Twyford volunteer's experience in Algeria hostage crisisBy Natasha Adkins
February 12, 2013
A British Red Cross worker and volunteer from Twyford who was sent to Algeria to help with the hostage crisis has described her emotional experience.
Chris Beck, 57, of New Road, was told she was going to Algeria in the early hours of Friday, January 18, as part of a Red Cross psychological support team and by 9am she was on a flight.
Little was known about the situation, other than militant groups had taken foreign workers hostage at a BP oil plant. The number of hostages and casualties was unclear.
Mrs Beck, operations director for the Thames Valley Red Cross, said: “I always feel apprehensive, this is a situation where people need help and it is likely to be something quite awful.
“The apprehension is helpful for focusing what can I do and how can I equip myself.”
Mrs Beck, who was in Algeria for less than 36 hours giving emotional support and advice to those involved, described the teams working to resolve the situation as highly organised and recalled being shocked at how “vast and isolated” the area was.
She accompanied British nationals involved in the crisis on their journey home, adding: “Most of the people returning home were physically fragile after their gruelling experiences, and emotionally distressed.
“They had formed strong bonds with each other during the ordeal and continued this support during the journey.”
Mrs Beck, who has volunteered for 27 years, said: “When you come back, having been working with people who have had something enormous like that happen, a lot of your normal life seems almost trivial.
“It takes time to readjust.
“I have a really supportive family but I think even for them this was slightly more difficult.”
She has previously been deployed to Cyprus during the evacuation of Lebanon in 2006, Ufton Nervet rail crash in 2004 and the London bombings in 2005.