Art from the past: the foot cast that marks a historical fight to ban landmines

Plaster foot 2

Every month, we dust off a piece of art from the British Red Cross collection to give it the attention it deserves. Our piece this month could be an ordinary keepsake – except for the missing foot.  

The artwork – Feet – was made in the late 1990s, at a time when nearly a quarter of war casualties were landmine victims. It is a simple but moving piece – with a crutch mark pressed into the plaster where a right foot should be.

Mike Whitwam, then director general of the British Red Cross, called the ongoing situation a “humanitarian tragedy”.

He added: “Anti-personnel mines indiscriminately maim and kill 2,000 people a month around the world.” More

Syria: knitting, sewing and weaving an independent life

A woman holds a heart-shaped frame

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

How can making a scarf, belt or bag help someone stand on their own feet? Just ask the women learning craft skills at a project in Dwailaa, Syria. The sessions let them support their families and escape some of the pressures of daily life.

All the women have been affected by the country’s crisis. Some have had to flee their homes elsewhere in Syria. Most were struggling to cope, emotionally and financially, when they started the sessions.

Three teachers at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent project pass on skills in knitting, weaving and other crafts, so the women are able to make items for sale. The hours spent learning and creating are also therapeutic, and follow on from sessions where the women are able to talk about the problems they face.

Amal, one of the women taking part, says: “when I have been here, my family say I return home with a smile on my face, I am much happier.” More

Fact check: asylum seekers

© British Red Cross

© British Red Cross

Recent media stories have attacked the government for putting asylum seekers in hotels while they wait for a decision about their claim. The articles claim that too much money is being spent on temporary accommodation.

Several articles have implied the UK is being flooded with asylum seekers. In fact, the country hosts less than one per cent of the world’s refugees.

We want to set the record straight. More

First aid volunteer: ‘there’s nothing like it’

Graham-Baker-BLOG2Having a good laugh one minute, then saving someone’s life in the back of an ambulance the next? Graham Baker lifts the lid on his life as a first aid volunteer.

Whenever you go to a big event, such as a festival, you’ll probably notice there’s always a few first aiders and a couple of ambulances there.

They deal with all the things that can go wrong on a fun day out – heatstroke, too much drink, cuts, bruises – and occasionally real emergencies. More

Sulaf’s story: the battle to stay healthy in Syria

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

© Ibrahim Malla/IFRC

When you think of the health risks posed by Syria’s conflict, you probably picture dramatic injuries caused by bullets and bombs. But many people are struggling to cope with long-term conditions. Across Syria, people face pain and danger as health services collapse. 

Teenager Sulaf and her 7-year-old sister Hiba are waiting at the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) children’s clinic in Dwailaa, Rural Damascus. The girls are diabetic, and waiting to get their insulin.

Sulaf, 15, has been having problems with her eyesight too, and her family are concerned. Then the girls’ mother is given some shocking news.  She says: “The doctor said that Sulaf’s optic nerve is damaged, and the cause is the high degree of her diabetes”. More

Changing lives in the Balkans after floods

Near Brcko district,  Bosnia and Herzegovina, two weeks after the floods -  ©IFRC/Nicole Robicheau

Near Brcko district, Bosnia and Herzegovina, two weeks after the floods – ©IFRC/Nicole Robicheau

Having never visited or worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I’d always associated the Balkan nation with the Bosnian war during the mid-1990s and the horrific events of Srebrenica.

Yet this is a remarkable country. It boasts rolling green hills, a diverse culture, a rich history, a wonderful cuisine and an extremely hospitable population.

Bosnians speak proudly of their natural resources, including the abundance of clean water. The very thought of purchasing bottled water is simply not up for discussion.

In May, however, the famous rivers of the Sava, Drina and Bosna caused havoc. They normally wind their way through the country providing much needed natural irrigation to agriculture, but on this occasion they burst their banks following unprecedented rainfall.


Young Muslims reach dizzy new heights for charity

Three Peaks Challenge finish

How does it feel to scale three mountains in a row? Dr Aziz Hafiz knows the answer. This year, he had to get a group of young Muslims fit and ready for their biggest-ever fitness challenge…

Aziz is vice-president of AMYA, Britain’s largest and oldest Muslim youth association – and proud chair of its hiking club.

The group always takes on an annual challenge for charity. But so many people wanted to do the Three Peaks Challenge this year – hiking Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon – that he had to turn some away.

“Everyone was so excited,” Aziz tells me. “But it didn’t go exactly to plan.”