Restart a heart: how Joanna saved her husband’s life

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Joanna and Graham with their arms around each other in their garden

Joanna and Graham, © British Red Cross

On a quiet Sunday morning Joanna’s husband Graham’s heart suddenly stopped. He became unresponsive and stopped breathing. Luckily, Joanna knew what to do and used her first aid skills saved his life.

“My first thought was to run! My daughter was screaming. But then something kicked in and I knew what I had to do,” Joanna said.

“I asked my daughter to call an ambulance and put the phone on loud speaker. Then I sent her outside to wait for the ambulance.”

Luckily, Joanna had learned first aid so she knew how to help her husband.

“I started doing chest compressions (CPR) and the emergency call handler on the phone counted me through sets of 30,” she explained.

“You have to be quite rigorous when you’re doing them, going about a third of the way into the body.

“The ambulance arrived after about eleven minutes and the crew came in.

“I literally remember standing there. I knew my arms were so sore from doing the chest compressions.

“It was the most terrifying eleven minutes of my life, but I would do it again, and again and again.

“And not just for my husband, for anyone who needed it. Because no matter who needs help, someone loves that person, it’s someone’s husband or son or daughter.”

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Giant cauliflower harvest: hard work and hard cash pay off in Nepal

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Gyan Maharajan stands next to her cauliflower harvest - the vegetable is so big that its leaves are as tall as she is

Gyan Maharajan and her huge cauliflower harvest in Nepal, @British Red Cross/Paul Wu

Getting ready to harvest your autumn fruit and vegetables?

Many of us are now busy in our garden or allotment. Others are taking the easier route and enjoying some fresh produce from the supermarket or grocer.

Either way, we can all take a moment to appreciate Gyan Maharjan’s bumper cauliflower crop.

At 3.5 kilos, one of her huge cauliflowers is around four times bigger than the average UK supermarket cauliflower!

Hoping for a harvest festival prize

Despite its massive size, 51-year-old Gyan carries her cauliflower in a basket on her back like a backpack.

She is on her way to Bungamati town for a giant vegetable competition. It’s an uncomfortable walk with the heavy weight on her back and Saturday is Nepal’s only weekend day.

Even so, the town’s central square is crowded, and large pumpkins, radishes and spinach take pride of place.

Gyan is amazed by how big her giant cauliflower has grown. Like all the others here, she’s hoping for a prize.

But just being able to grow her own crop again is a gift in itself.

Gyan was one of over a million people whose houses were destroyed in Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake.

Like thousands of other small farmers, Gyan lost her livelihood as well, making getting back to normal after the earthquake even harder.

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Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: the Red Cross is there to help

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This blog was updated on 2 October 2018.

Indonesia has just faced a terrifying double disaster: a powerful earthquake and then a tsunami.

A series of earthquakes rocked the province of Central Sulawesi, with the strongest being 7.7 magnitude.

Its epicentre was near the city of Dongala, home to around 300,000 people. That’s roughly the same as the number of people who live in Nottingham in the UK.

At least 1,234 people are known to have died and at least 799 people have been hurt. More than 6,000 houses have been destroyed and over 600,000 people across the province could be affected.

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“I know I have a lot to give”: a young asylum seeker’s story

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A young woman from the Surviving to Thriving project looks away from the camera

A young asylum seeker at a Surviving to Thriving group © Dan Burwood/British Red Cross

Dalia* was just 16 when conflict forced her to flee her home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  She is now 18 and is getting help from a Red Cross project in Birmingham to share her experiences and thrive in her new life.

“I didn’t know where I was going when I left Congo,” Dalia said.

“I was living my life normally, like every child, and my life changed suddenly.

“My uncle said I had to be safe. I tried to ask about my family but he said ‘you just have to go. The rest is not your problem, just go’.”

Dalia’s uncle sent her away with one of his friends, who brought her to Angola before continuing on to Europe.

“Arriving in the UK was so scary”

When Dalia got to England, she was given to someone she didn’t know. “He drove me to the police station and he told me I would be safe there,” Dalia remembered.

“Then he left me and he was gone.”

“It was difficult because I don’t know the country, I don’t know the city, I don’t know which language to speak.

“At the police station I just said asil [asylum] in French because I couldn’t even say that in English.

“I was really afraid because I didn’t know if the police would return me the same day.  I thought maybe today I’m going back to my country.

“I stayed for many hours waiting at the police station and I didn’t know if I was going to prison. I didn’t know what they would do with me.”

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First aid in school: saving lives will be on the curriculum

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Eight-year-old Stephen stands in his school uniform holding a sign that says 'I can save a life so can you'

Stephen learned first aid in schools and saved a woman’s life © Mike Poloway/UNPChristchurch School, Skipton. 4 December 2017. Stephen Orbeldaze.

Great news! The government is planning to add first aid to the school curriculum in England.

Years of campaigning by the British Red Cross and other organisations are finally paying off. Children and young people will now get the skills they need to save a life.

Why is first aid in school so important?

British Red Cross research found that more than nine in ten adults (95%)* would not be able, confident or willing to help in three life-threatening first aid emergencies.

Teaching first aid in schools will help change this. We want everyone to know how to save a life.

But does first aid education in school really work?

Yes. Red Cross teaching resources have helped children and young people learn first aid in school for years.

So we know that children who learn first aid go on to use it. These real-life stories of young first aiders show how this works.

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Typhoon Mangkhut: the Red Cross is there to help

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A Red Cross volunteer walks pass a house destroyed by Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon Mangkhut caused terrible damage in the Philippines, © Philippine Red Cross

Typhoon Mangkhut, which slammed into the Philippines on Saturday, was the world’s strongest storm this year.

Its winds reached a staggering 165 miles per hour. That’s 75 miles per hour stronger than Hurricane Florence, which hit the US on the same day.

At 168 miles across, this massive storm covered an area roughly equal to the distance between London and Stoke-on-Trent.

The human impact has been equally huge.

Reports are still coming in but we already know that at least 64 people sadly lost their lives.

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After her partner’s death, Sarah helps others cope with bereavement

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Someone holds a photo of Sarah and her partner Graham with leaflets from Cruse Bereavement Care behind it on a table

Sarah and Graham

When Sarah Sweeney’s partner Graham died suddenly while they were on holiday, she was plunged into terrible grief. Now, she plans to use her experience to help others who feel alone after the death of a loved one.

“I lost my partner, Graham, five months ago while we were on holiday,” Sarah said.

“It was completely unexpected. ‘Devastation’ doesn’t even come close, there just aren’t the words to really explain or understand this.

“He was 52 years old and I am 53. We were so active, young at heart, sporty and adventurous. We lived life to the max. We thought we had the rest of lives ahead of us.”

Sarah suddenly had to learn to live without Graham.

From being an outgoing person who planned to spend the rest of her life with the man she loved, Sarah began to dread the weekends. This was the time they used to spend together.

“The death of my partner has changed me,” Sarah said. “Many of the things that I used to do without even thinking about it – cycling, going to the gym, going out for dinner or to the local coffee shop – I avoided.

“It is so easy to become completely isolated.”

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What would you miss most? Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma

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If a huge hurricane blew away your home, what would you miss the most?

For Lorie, it was his treasured viola. “There’s no way I can replace my instrument, my viola,” he said. “It was just precious.”

The keen musician’s home and viola were damaged by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

The huge storm damaged or destroyed almost every house in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Rebuilding is going slowly.

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