Young dancers raise the roof at final of Dance: Make Your Move

     

Over 4,000 young people danced their socks off at the recent final of our annual competition, Dance: Make Your Move. Each school performed a routine inspired by the British Red Cross – raising thousands of pounds for charity.

The young stars, aged four to 18, wowed a panel of judges that included members from top dance group, Diversity.

In the months leading up to the final on 13 July, dancers across the UK showed off their moves in dozens of local and regional heats.

But on the day, it was down to 14 teams to battle it out at London’s O2 for a chance to win the junior and senior categories. More

‘’I was ready to die – but Rebecca brought the whole world back to me’

Kathy Malcolm and Rebecca OwenBLOGFor Kathy, it seemed like things would never get better again.

She had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Her kidney failure, due to diabetes, meant dialysis treatment three times a week. She was slowly going blind. And to cap it all, she could no longer maintain her lovely big home.

The 64-year-old, from Llandudno, recalled: “I was at my lowest point – I was basically ready to die.”

Transforming effect

But cases such as Kathy’s are exactly what our support at home volunteers specialise in. And they work hard to ensure people know they have someone they can really count on.

Kathy had been referred to the British Red Cross by a social worker who recognised she was in real trouble. Within days, volunteer Rebecca Owen turned up on the pensioner’s doorstep. It was to have a transformative effect.

Looking back, Kathy said: “I wouldn’t be here today without Rebecca. She brought the whole world back to me.”

Cheering company

Rebecca started making weekly visits to enjoy tea and biscuits with Kathy, and talk through her ongoing difficulties.

Kathy said: “The visits gave me something to concentrate on – I used to wait for them with anticipation.

Kathy-Malcolm-and-Rebecca-O“I realise now that I needed someone to talk to. At first, I just cried and cried, and all I talked about was dying and putting things in order.

“But Rebecca was always so positive and would say: ‘I’ll come again next week, so we’ll talk more then’. It gave me something to look forward to.”

Constant support

When Rebecca first started calling round, Kathy lived in a large four-storey house that she was struggling to maintain due to her failing eyesight. She was also nervous about an upcoming eye operation.

Kathy remembered: “I was very low, but Rebecca kept turning up week after week and was such a help. She even came by a few days after my eye operation, which was a revelation.

“I realised that, for the first time, I could see her properly – but at first I just acted as normal and didn’t say anything. She helped me down the steps into my garden, and we had a coffee and chat as usual.

“Then after about ten minutes, I suddenly said: ‘That’s a lovely colour you’re wearing today, Rebecca’. Her face was a picture! We had a real laugh.”

Bright garden

Finally, the time came for Kathy to move into a more manageable small flat in Llandudno – and once more Rebecca was there to help out.

In the new place, Kathy’s lounge looks out over a small patio area that she’s transformed into a beautiful garden full of bright colours.

Kathy-MalcolmBLOG3She said: “My eyesight is beginning to deteriorate again, so I want to buy more bright, scented roses for the garden. I can still see bright things and want to get the garden perfect.”

She added: “I do miss my old house but, thanks to Rebecca, I’m now making plans to improve my flat.”

Proud Rebecca

Even Rebecca has been taken aback by the scale of Kathy’s progress. She recalled: “When I think back to when I first met her, the transformation is amazing.”

She added: “Our original goals were to get Kathy to a better place emotionally, improve her eyesight and also consider moving to a more suitable place.

“We’ve accomplished all of those things and Kathy has done incredibly well throughout. I’m very proud of what she has achieved.”

‘So grateful’

With a new home and increased confidence, Kathy has finally learned to relish life once again.

She said: “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to Rebecca and the Red Cross. Before I met her, I felt that I couldn’t go on.

“I was ready to just pack it all in, but she made me see there are reasons to carry on.”

Become a support at home volunteer.

Fighting cholera amid hunger and conflict in South Sudan

A South Sudan Red Cross volunteer speaking about cholera prevention

A South Sudan volunteer speaking about cholera prevention – ©BritishRedCross/HenryMakiwa

Alfred Lati Joseph pinches his cigarette butt between his thumb and index finger, his face animated as he speaks. 

“I am young, strong and fit, but what about the babies, the young and the old?” he asks.

“Cholera will kill them first because they are weaker. It can take you in a matter of hours, and that’s the truth.”

Please donate to the South Sudan Crisis Appeal

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Don’t be caught red-faced this heatwave

It doesn’t often get hot in Britain – which is why so many of us go a bit solar-crazy. But before lathering yourself in baby oil and lying out on a piece of tin-foil, heed these warnings.

1. Sunburn
At the first sign of good weather, it’s a popular male instinct in the UK to immediately expose one’s milky-white torso to the blazing sun. Many women, meanwhile, will spend days wearing differently-strapped tops until their exposed backs look like weird, sunburny crop circles. All too often, sun lotion doesn’t feature. More

Mongolian schools get ready for earthquakes with Red Cross help

Mongolia schools earthquake preparationMongolians live in a harsh environment full of risks and hazards – including the threat of earthquakes. But in just two years, a Red Cross programme has helped 99 schools in the country’s capital prepare for such disasters.

Mongolia has experienced 2,500 earthquakes since 1970. And in the capital and largest city, Ulaanbaatar, 56 per cent of buildings would be at high risk of serious damage or collapse if a major earthquake took place.

That’s why staff and volunteers from the Mongolian Red Cross Society are teaching schoolchildren skills such as first aid and how to take shelter when an earthquake happens. They also help students learn a safe escape route out of their school. And twice a year students test what they’ve learned with simulation exercises.

More

What is it like to have Ebola and survive?

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

©IFRC/IdrissaSoumare

“Now they call me anti-Ebola,” said Saa Sabas. He is a lucky man, and he knows it. The father-of-two, from Guinea, is one of a handful of people to survive Ebola. 

It is an especially virulent disease. The current outbreak continues to spread in West Africa and has so-far claimed more than 500 lives, according to the World Health Organisation. 

The outbreak began in Guinea, in March, and has since spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. A lack of knowledge and understanding about the disease meant that it spread quickly, particularly among health workers and those caring for the sick. This is exactly how Saa became infected.  

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The Battle of Brazil: surviving the World Cup final

Sunday’s bruising game was a fascinating spectacle, not least from a medical perspective. We compare proper first aid treatments with some of the impromptu solutions applied on the pitch.

Crikey. Anyone accidentally switching between the big final and Game of Thrones at the weekend might have been hard pressed to tell the difference.

Even without swords and axes, the Germans and Argentines provided a rampaging spree of chopping, scything, clashing, banging and bleeding. Here are some of the wince-worthy highlights. More

Art and letters reveal true stories from the First World War

Pencil sketch of a First World War cemetery in Etaples

British military cemetery in Etaples by Olive Mudie-Cooke

First World War letters, diaries, reports and volunteers’ possessions are telling some fascinating stories in a brand new exhibition.

“When you think of First World War volunteers (VADs), ‘nursing’ may come to mind. In fact you may be surprised at the variety of work that British Red Cross VADs carried out,” says Emily Oldfield, curator at the Red Cross.

Within a few hours of being picked up on the battlefield, wounded men were transferred home to “Blighty”. As more men were injured, the number of nurses engaged for home service – both trained and voluntary – increased. More