Students: Are you sure that’s freshers’ flu and not meningitis?

A group of students are sat in a communal area of their accommodation. One of them is showing signs of meningitis.

The new academic term is a time for meeting fresh faces, getting to grips with new timetables… and freshers’ flu. But are you sure that’s what your flu-like symptoms are?

Students sometimes miss the signs of a much more serious illness known as meningitis because its symptoms are similar to that of freshers’ flu – the collective coughs, fevers and viruses caught during your first few weeks at university.

Meningitis is rare – but can be life threatening. Students are at more risk of it because they often live in close proximity to one another.

So if you’re heading to university this month, make sure you know the signs.

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Humanity at a crossroads: three journeys to Europe

montage of migrants holding maps

An exhausted 14-year-old boy waits for help in a dusty refugee reception area. He has open sores on his arms where he has been deliberately burnt with cigarettes.

An 11-year-old girl has left school, too depressed and withdrawn to continue after being raped three times in a matter of months.

A woman of 23 cradles her eight-month-old baby in a reception centre in Italy. She is waiting to hear whether the culmination of a seven-year journey during which she was raped, stabbed and imprisoned five times, will be a return to a country where she has no family, no money and no prospects.

These are just a few of the people travelling today across the central Mediterranean. Many will have left their homes months or even years ago.

They are moving for diverse reasons: some are fleeing conflict and persecution, others move because of poverty, loss of livelihood or lack of opportunity.

All of them have a story to tell.

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Bridget Jones’ Baby: Top first aid tips for new parents

Bridget Jones GIF – Find & Share on GIPHYThe long awaited third-instalment of Bridget Jones is here – and this time Bridget’s having a baby.

While her most pressing concern is working out who’s the daddy (#definitelydarcy or #totallyjack?), Bridget will soon have plenty more to think about – keeping her baby safe from harm.

But don’t fear Bridget. The British Red Cross has it covered.

Here are our five top first aid tips for new parents – and Bridget.

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The health and social care crisis: Joyce’s story

Joyce Hall with a Red Cross volunteer who helped her regain her independence after she broke her arm Joyce waited an agonising two days before going to hospital with a badly broken arm. She couldn’t just go to the hospital – she had her younger brother to think about.

As the sole carer for Lenny, who has epilepsy and learning difficulties, she was worried about leaving him alone. He was unable to do everyday tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself.

But after two days of pain she had little choice.

The British Red Cross met Joyce for the first time when she was discharged from the hospital and referred to our support at home service.

We were able to help her not just through her recovery, but find more support for her and Lenny from other services in the long-term too.

But with six consecutive years of budget cuts and an increasing demand on health and social care services, the system in England has become unsustainable. The care people like Joyce and Lenny need, is at risk.

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Seven things you didn’t know about Iraq

A two-year-old girl who fled her home in Iraq sits on the floor next to a Red Cross food parcel

The people of Iraq have survived years of war, disease, shortages and chaos.

Yet the conflict and its impact on Iraq’s people get much less coverage than crises in other countries.

The Red Cross is one of the few organisations able to support people in need all over Iraq. Please support our Iraq Crisis Appeal.

Some of what communities and aid workers in Iraq deal with every day may shock you:

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Great North Run: ‘I thought I may as well make myself useful’

Anthony (left) with other Red Cross first aid volunteers at the Great North Run

Completing a half marathon would be a good enough excuse for most of us to put our feet up. But not for Anthony Higgins.

At the weekend he completed the 13.1 mile Great North Run – and then started a shift immediately afterwards offering first aid to other runners as a British Red Cross volunteer.

“When I got a place in the ballot for the race I thought I may as well make myself useful after the finish line,” the 28-year-old said.

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Don’t stop at 999: ‘If it wasn’t for you, she could have died’

Natasha applied pressure to an elderly woman's bleeding leg to help stem the flow of blood.

As Natasha headed home after a routine hospital check-up, she spotted a commotion up ahead. At first she couldn’t make out what was happening – then she saw the pool of blood. 

All I could see from the distance was just this red pool gathering and it was getting bigger and bigger,” Natasha said.

She knew she had to help.

“I don’t know why or what came over me – everyone was flapping and no one was helping. I dropped my bag and ran – I’d say about half a mile down the street!” Natasha said.

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