A YORK restaurant manager has told of the devastating scenes she witnessed on a Greek island inundated with refugees fleeing war.

Sarah Warman was profoundly moved by her experiences as a volunteer in Lesvos where she saw and helped with arriving boats laden with people, including the elderly, pregnant women and tiny babies.

Having bought thermal provisions to give to refugees as well as fundraising money to buy goods, the 39-year-old volunteered with numerous charities springing up to do the work the struggling Greek authorities have been unable to do.

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Flooding in the Moria refugee site

Sarah said the refugees she met told how they had no choice but to leave the dangerous circumstances in their home countries - mainly of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan - and hoped to return home. She met an 87-year-old grandfather who had no choice to leave with his family, but had kept his front door keys.

"Everyone had a story to tell," Sarah said, "They told us how they couldn't live where they were anymore, there were daily bombings and they had lost everything. They had nothing else to lose."

Sarah, from Copmanthorpe, volunteered with Lighthouse, which waited for the boats to come in on the northern shore of the island and included a team of lifeguards and doctors and those who could offer advice to refugees on what would happen next.

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A team waiting for refugee boats to arrive

Some didn't know where they were, or that they had arrived on an island, and believed they would be able to walk to Spain, Sarah said.

She also worked with volunteers called the Dirty Girls, who laundered wet clothes in order to return them to refugees and she worked at a camp called Moria which she describes as having appalling, unsanitary conditions.

She has urged people to donate money and to contact their MP to encourage them to push to offer homes to more refugees.

"I think we stand at an important moment in history," Sarah said, "Where there's people suffering and in need where are you going to stand? Will you be someone who helps or turns their back?

"There's no need to be afraid of refugees, they are just people like you and me, we are one human race. How can you turn your back on a two week old child? They have nowhere to go and all they need is our help.

"They are afraid of the same things we are. People are dying where they were before."