How do we protect our Ebola fighters?

©IFRC/VictorLacken

©IFRC/VictorLacken

Aid workers fighting Ebola make huge personal sacrifices to save lives in West Africa. But how do we protect our staff and volunteers? In this blog, Sam Lauder explains the importance of infection prevention at the Red Cross treatment centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone.

A torn glove, a moment of lapsed concentration, a needle injury – there is so much that could potentially go wrong when working in an Ebola treatment centre.

As a member of the infection and prevention control (IPC) team, it was my job to make sure that we did everything to stop the virus from spreading.

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Art from the past: feeding Europe’s hungry

The feeding painting

Every month, we dust off a piece of art from the British Red Cross collection to give it the attention it deserves. This painting was a topical one after the Second World War – when much of Europe was left hungry and homeless.

Look at this oil painting, and you notice the detail etched into the faces. They are all downcast: eyes on the floor and shuffling their hands. There’s a clear sense of weariness and waiting.

For artist Max Huber, in 1948, this painting was like a newscast: it captured a very current crisis.

The Second World War was over, but Europe was still reeling – and dealing with hunger and homelessness. More

How a former patient became a volunteer

Carol-Looby-kettle-BLOGWhen she broke her hip, Carol Looby wasn’t just impressed by how the British Red Cross helped her – she vowed to become a volunteer once she was better.

“I love my uniform. I always say to people: ‘Don’t you think it looks friendly?’”

Carol beams with pride as she shows off the kit she wears while volunteering for the British Red Cross’ support at home service in Leeds.

Over the past 18 months, she’s helped more than 40 people at home, often visiting them many times over the course of several weeks.

Her visits enable vulnerable people to leave hospital earlier – and sometimes mean they don’t need to be admitted in the first place. More

Attack of the choking Chinese chicken

Choking-man-BLOGIt sounds like an old joke: what do you get when you cross a Chinese restaurant, a choking diner and a first aid trainer? But luckily, this tale had a happy punchline.

Timing, they say, is everything.

And certainly, if you start choking in public, there are few better times to be sitting opposite a first aid trainer.

Over the years, Sara Hodges has taught literally hundreds of people life-saving skills – including how to help someone who’s choking.

So when her friend, who was facing her in a crowded Chinese restaurant, suddenly took on a surprised look and stopped speaking, she knew exactly what was wrong. More

Queuing for a miracle – thanks to solar power

Kenya-solar-energy-blog.5In one of the driest parts of Kenya, a community is enjoying clean water for the first time with the help of renewable energy.

The scenery shifts dramatically on the road north from Nairobi. The rolling green fields and spectacular views of Mount Kenya quickly give way to the parched earth of Samburu County.

The climate in Samburu County is harsh and the arid landscape gives an indication of the paucity of rainfall in these parts. It is one of the driest counties in Kenya and is plagued by cycles of drought. More

The hottest fashion ticket in town

Dior fashion catwalk show 1954

Sixty years ago, it was the talk of the country: a catwalk so lavish and starry, it would give today’s London Fashion Week a run for its money. And the British Red Cross had a front-row seat.

It’s 1954.

Sixteen models strut through the corridors of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire – past the marble statues, tapestries and keen faces of British royalty.

Move over Harry Styles and Alexa Chung – sitting on the front row of this fashion show were the lofty likes of Princess Margaret and socialite Lady Astor.

In fact, it was a moment that prompted The Telegraph to gush: “Paris came to Blenheim by air and rail…in a cloud of Dior perfume.”

So why did it cause such a stir? More

‘Volunteering landed me a job’

Sarah-Coull-BLOG2Young mother Sarah Coull was fed up with being unemployed, so tried her hand at volunteering – and hey presto, it soon landed her a job. Here’s her story.

After leaving education, I spent a while struggling to find work. Like lots of people my age, I kept trying but the jobs just weren’t out there.

While I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do for a career, the prospect of care work had always interested me. I think older people are often marginalised, which isn’t fair. More