The lecture was attended by Westminster alumni, students, academics and external guests who were inspired by the vast amount of humanitarian aid work that Baroness Cox has undertaken, as well as her many missions to conflict and post-conflict zones.
As Chief Executive of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART), Baroness Cox provided the audience with an insight into the work which the charity has done in countries such as Burma, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria and Armenia. She emphasised the fact that the charity does its best to help victims of oppression and persecution by recognising the priorities and needs of the affected communities. “It’s the ethical and moral imperative to provide aid for those in need,” said the Baroness. Commenting on her title as Baroness, she said “I am a nurse and social scientist by intention, and I am a Baroness by chance. I’m privileged by being in the House of Lords by being a voice for the voiceless.”
The Baroness also spoke to the audience about the double anguish of witnessing grief and suffering, and then coming back to the UK and not being able to find the help needed due to the fact that much of the suffering goes unnoticed. Speaking of the emotional difficulties which come along with visiting communities suffering from starvation, illness and oppression, Baroness Cox expressed that “The pain gives you the passion, and the passion gives you the energy.”
She was created a Life Peer in 1982 and was a deputy speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005. Lady Cox has received major awards from all over the world, including the Commander Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the International Mother Teresa Award from All India Christian Council. Moreover she is an Honorary Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing, and a Trustee of Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN).
Baroness Caroline Cox studied both her first degree and MA at the University of Westminster – then the Polytechnic of Central London.
She said that at the time being married with small children, the traditional route of a three-year full-time course seemed impossible. “I’m so grateful for the Polytechnic for giving part-time evening lessons,” she added.
Bringing the evening’s lecture to a close, Baroness Cox left the audience with a phrase summing up her reasons for devoting her life to humanitarian aid work, saying, “I cannot do everything, but I must not do nothing”.
The event was part of the University’s Westminster Talks Lecture Series 2014/15, featuring talks by an outstanding array of Westminster alumni, Professors and Honorary Doctors and Friends of Westminster. The lectures underpin the University’s mission of excellence, creativity and innovation for the benefit of the wider society.