Empathy is the key to being a decent human being. It is the foundation for ethical behaviour, to making good relationships, for being able to love and for professional success. It prevents bullying and many other forms of cruelty.

It is refreshing to see it in someone as young as Annie who aged just 12 has already embraced some of these qualities. In May 2021 it was her Bat Mitzvah – the coming-of-age ritual for Jewish girls – and instead of the plethora of gifts that usually accompany this celebration Annie started a JustGiving page and made masks.

“I have no idea what is ahead of us all, and this last year has been anything but normal, but there is one thing I could definitely do and that would be to use this occasion to raise money for charity,” explains Annie.

Annie chose The Separated Child Foundation after her father suggested she look at the work that they do. Ironically, she had also just read a fiction book about refugees from Syria – No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruto – “it was very realistic and made me think about what it must be like to be a refugee.” So, when she looked at the work The Separated Child Foundation do with young people it spurred her on create a JustGiving Page and make facemasks. Together with her grandmother, Annie chose the fabrics and assembled the masks.  So far, she has raised just under £1,400.

“I have always enjoyed sewing but my Grandma showed me how to make the masks and we worked together on the project.”  So how many has she sold? “Maybe around 100 or more – I have just lost count now. Lots is the answer!” says Annie.

It’s not Annie’s first foray into raising money for charity.  During the lockdown last year, she and her brother ran laps around the garden and raised £1,500 for the Royal Free Charity.

She has also joined the army of Purple Packer volunteers who help put together the Sleep Packs and Arrival Packs for the Foundation, encouraging five of her friends to join her in this volunteer experience.

“We really enjoyed the experience and it felt good that we were helping young people in need.”

Engaging a young person through volunteering allows them to see first-hand the impact that a charity can have on individuals, and it also has a positive influence on a young person’s propensity to continue volunteering later in life.

Annie is already well on her way.

For more information about buying one of Annie’s masks please go to:-


Roma Felstein

June 2021