Bamber feted on distinctive role

By Marcus Dysch, December 11, 2008
Helen Bamber lunching with Emma Krais, Dr Tanya Byron  and Susan Spitz

Helen Bamber lunching with Emma Krais, Dr Tanya Byron and Susan Spitz

A veteran human rights champion is this year’s Jewish Care Woman of Distinction.

Helen Bamber received the award from clinical psychologist and TV presenter Dr Tania Byron at a lunch at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall on Monday before an audience of 180 women.

Ms Bamber, 83, recalls growing up in the 1930s “at a time of great deprivation, unemployment and hardship. The Jewish community was very much the scapegoat.

“I felt I had lived with the knowledge for a long time that terrible things had happened in the world. But there were survivors and I felt something could be done to help them.”

After working with Amnesty International, she founded the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in 1985, through which thousands of people were helped.

Three years ago, she established the Helen Bamber Foundation, which assists those who have suffered domestic slavery, ethnic violence and forced prostitution in countries including Rwanda, Ethiopia and China.

An OBE for services to human rights, the North Londoner believes her endeavours are as relevant now as they were over 60 years ago.

“I feel my work is not done and my younger colleagues need to take it on, which they are doing. As long as I have a voice and I believe in the truth of what I am doing, I have a job to do.”

Expressing “the utmost admiration” for Ms Bamber, Dr Byron said she had “touched the lives of thousands in the most profound way. She has shown great humility in all that she has achieved, serving as an inspiration to all women.”

The lunch raised over £26,000 for Jewish Care homes for those with mental health needs.

Last updated: 5:58pm, December 11 2008