University of Brighton Alumni Association

Rebecca Porter smiling in a village in Ukraine

The nursing alumna volunteering in Ukraine

Meet Rebecca Porter: A Brighton Nursing Graduate Making a Difference

All of us at the University of Brighton, like the rest of the world, have been shocked by what has been happening in Ukraine. One of our amazing nursing alum bravely decided to volunteer not far from the front line.

Rebecca Porter, who graduated in 2017 with a BSc in Nursing (Adult), has been travelling across Ukraine providing medical care for those affected by the war.

We caught up with Rebecca to hear more about her experiences out there, and reflections on her time at Brighton.

Frontline Healthcare: Rebecca’s Journey Across War-Torn Ukraine

“I volunteered as part of a small team, travelling across the country, providing primary healthcare in villages affected by the war with Russia. We took our own medications, so we could give people 60 days’ worth of vital medicines.

“The organisation I worked with is called ‘Global Care force’, they work across the world, offering free healthcare and medicines to people that need them.

“We started in Kyiv, and then travelled down south to Mykolaiv. We then went out to villages from this central southern location. We also travelled North, up near the border with Belarus.”

Life in an Active War Zone: Challenges and Difficult Moments

As you can imagine there were some very difficult and scary moments volunteering in an active warzone.

“When we were in the south, we were around twenty miles away from the frontlines – we could hear the artillery. The first day we were in Kyiv, we were outside, and the air raid siren went off. We got to see the patriot system in action, with plumes in the sky as the rockets were blown up on route.

“We also visited a village that came out to welcome the body of a young soldier sadly killed on the frontline. He was only twenty-one years old and his family were devastated. The village lined the road with flags and flowers, and formed a procession behind the vehicle that carried his body to the church.”

Beyond Ukraine: Rebecca’s Humanitarian Work Around the World

“In early 2021, I took part in the covid vaccination roll out. A team of us travelled around the country, working twelve-hour shifts for weeks on end, getting the vaccine to the most vulnerable people.  

“In August 2021, I was working in the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and we provided medical cover for the Kabul evacuation. I flew into Kabul teh times, bringing back a little over three thousand people. It was chaos at the airfield, with lists of names on paper, and people who had fled and arrived at the airport with no documents.  

“There were a couple of collapses in flight, as people were running on adrenaline, and then when they felt safe, they crashed. Thankfully no one died, everyone was treated, and was OK. 

“All nursing is important, and the ability to go and help people during crises like war, reinforces how lucky we are to have the NHS and freedom/peace to live as we want in the UK.”  

How University of Brighton Prepared Rebecca for Field Work

“I loved my time at the University of Brighton. I got a good mix of acute and outpatient training opportunities. This set me up for the first phase of my nursing career. The training really focused on evidence-based, person-centred practice. This emphasis on supporting the individual made me realise that my skills are highly mobile, pushing me to go abroad and work.  

“Things ‘fell into place’ for me on my renal placement. This was during my second year, and it pushed everything into place for me in terms of anatomy/physiology. My tutor was Dr Theo Fotis, who has a very dry sense of humour.” 

Her tutor Dr Theo Fotis, Reader in Digital Nursing, whom Rebecca had such fond memories of, had this to share: 

“I’m incredibly proud of what Rebecca has achieved since her graduation and I was really pleased to read her fond memories of her time studying here at Brighton.  

“Nursing is one of the most rewarding professions with multiple options and opportunities for career progression.” 

Exploring Alternative Careers in Nursing: Insights from Rebecca

Rebecca also went on to tell us about non-traditional nursing routes:

“There are opportunities in the armed forces. The RAF offers the chance to be a flight nurse, and travel across the world, bringing people back to the UK. I now work as a nurse on a cruise ship and I post about life onboard on Instagram. You can also work in Humanitarian Nursing, aka for an NGO or charity in a disaster zone.  

“If you want to volunteer in Ukraine, or donating some money, you can: 

  1. Visit the volunteer portal here:  
  1. Donate to my fundraising efforts, (the money pays for the medicines we give out in Ukraine), (you need to put ‘New England’ in the ‘State’ box).” 


AlumnicharitygraduatehealthhealthcarenursenursingUniversity of Brightonvolunteervolunteering

Alex Petrovic • September 14, 2023

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