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Give us a kiss, win a trip to Paris!


Here’s an easy way to limber up those lips ahead of Valentine’s Day. No, I’m afraid we haven’t booked Brad Pitt to provide vital lip support to lonely-hearted Red Cross supporters.

Instead we’ve lined up a record-breaking kissathon, the Big Red Kiss, at St Johns shopping centre in Liverpool, on Saturday. Okay, so what it lacks in Hollywood glamour, it makes up for in originality. And, if you haven’t yet met ‘the one’, it’s a way to get some hot kissing action with minimal effort and commitment.

Here’s how it works:  the shopping centre will host the Red Cross’ attempt to beat the world record for the number of lipstick imprints in one place in 12 hours on the day. The existing record of 2,302 kisses was set in Istanbul in 2010 and we’re hoping that everyone in Liverpool will help us smash the record and fundraise for our life-saving work.  Radio City will be helping things go with a swing.


Disaster Response Challenge leads Dave to Pakistan


Dave Luddington went from Red Cross first aid volunteer to fire and emergency support service (FESS) volunteer to delegate in Pakistan within three years.

Dave spent a month as a Red Cross delegate in flood-hit Pakistan, in September and October last year. His role was to manage the distribution of aid throughout a large region of the country.

Dave was already an event first aid and FESS volunteer when he took part in the Red Cross’ Disaster Response Challenge, which led to his recent delegate role. The event, in which participants respond to a hypothetical disaster under the guidance of trained delegates, was a eureka moment.

He said: “I’ve worked in warehouse logistics for over 20 years and had no idea that I could use these skills to help the Red Cross in a disaster situation. After taking part in the Disaster Response Challenge, I immediately applied to become a warehouse logistics delegate.”

Eighteen months later, Dave was fully trained and flying out to Pakistan – and now he can’t wait to go back. He said: “I’m looking forward to spending more time as a Red Cross delegate, going out to disaster areas and helping to save lives. It’s so rewarding.”

Why don’t you sign up for this year’s Disaster Response Challenge, in Hampshire, on 8-10 April or 23-25 September? Entrance costs just £50 (plus minimum sponsorship of £500). Although participation doesn’t guarantee a delegate role with the Red Cross, it’s a great introduction to our international emergency response work. And, of course, you’ll be helping us raise vital funds in the process.

First aider makes ice work of new skills


first aid kitOur first aid volunteers often wonder when they happen to be passing by when accidents strike, whether they are in the right place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time. Whatever the answer, you never know when fate’s hand will place a needy person in your path.

For one brand new first aid volunteer, Kerry Roberts, 22, it was just moments after she had completed one of our first aid courses, in Manchester.

Kerry, from Warrington, had just left the course, and walked a couple of streets when she spotted a woman in her fifties who had slipped on the ice and fallen. She was unconscious. While a passerby called an ambulance, Kerry and another woman checked her breathing and cleared the casualty’s airway.


Separated by snow: cancer sufferer reunited with blind husband


emergency response volunteers in snowFor many of us the prolonged Arctic snap engulfing the country is inconvenient, especially for those caught up in travel chaos. But can you imagine what it’s like for a blind, diabetic, elderly man living in a remote village, whose house has no heating thanks to a prolonged power cut?

Carrie Metcalfe, one of our emergency response volunteers, has a good idea. The man in question was just one of many vulnerable people she’s been very busy helping in Lincolnshire throughout the recent bout of severe weather.

Carrie took vital provisions to the man, whose village was cut off by snowfall in early December. She recalled:

“The poor man had struggled through a three-day power cut. He had no heating, electricity or gas and needed food. Anita Moore, a fellow volunteer, and I gave him his first hot drink in three days.”

Meanwhile, the man’s wife, who has cancer, was in hospital in Nottingham where she was stuck following being discharged, unable to get home due to the weather.

“Anita and I – with the help of my 4×4 – managed to go and pick up the man’s wife from the hospital the next day.

“We had to do the conga down the drive through knee-deep snow to get her into the house, but it was worth it when the man and woman were finally reunited. They were very emotional, crying and holding each other. They’ve been married for 61 years, and up until now only ever spent two nights apart.

“It’s so rewarding to see the joy on people’s faces when they see  British Red Cross volunteers.  Even though we can’t fix everything, I feel we make a difference to people’s lives, which is why I love volunteering for the Red Cross.”

With the big freeze set to continue, make sure you’re prepared for bad weather.

Festive first aid tips


Many of us love a Christmas pudding over the festive season but have you ever stopped to think about the dangers that could lurk within that little bowl of steaming loveliness?

Joe Mulligan, our head of first aid education, says: “Over the Christmas period, it is estimated that over 80,000 people will be injured due to accidents in the home, so it’s important that people have the necessary skills in order to help someone who may need first aid.”

Here are his first aid tips for common festive hazards:


How the Red Cross didn’t ban Christmas



Update: November 2013

As the festive season approaches, a very old (and inaccurate) story claiming that the British Red Cross has banned Christmas has once again surfaced through social media and various websites.

 Just to reiterate: we have never ‘banned Christmas’, nor asked shop volunteers to take down decorations. In fact, many of our shops are decorated during the Christmas period and we sell Christmas cards.

 As the following blog explains, this myth is based on a factually incorrect newspaper article that was written more than a decade ago. This blog post was originally posted on Dec 17 2010.


Yesterday, we started getting some comments on our Facebook page from people angry with us for ‘banning// Christmas’, which we haven’t, and the story now seems to be spreading on some American websites.

It turns out that these people have stumbled across an article  headlined ‘The Red Cross bans Christmas’ that appeared in the Daily Mail in 2002 and now forms part of the paper’s online archive. Unfortunately, the article isn’t dated on the Mail’s site, which had led some people to believe this was a current news story – although references in it to Sangatte, the Calais refugee camp that closed in 2002, do serve to date it. We denied the gist of the piece strongly at the time. [update – the article is now dated]

Christmas is a major UK holiday and time of celebration, which is shared by people of all faiths and those of no faith. Many of our shops and offices are decked out in festive decorations around this time of year – we also sell a range of Christmas cards and gifts in our shops, both high street and online.

It’s true that you won’t find explicitly religious items or displays, relating to any faith, in any of our shops, at Christmas or any other time. But this certainly doesn’t amount to a ban on us celebrating or mentioning Christmas, or any other holiday. And it’s absolutely nothing to do with “offending non-Christians” or to serve any other sort of politically correct agenda.

The point is that the Red Cross is not a political or religious organisation. This neutrality is one of our fundamental principles and governs everything we do in the whole Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It means that we can reach and help people in need, whoever and wherever they are. Often we provide help in countries that other organisations cannot or will not work in.
We cross front lines in times of war to help conflict victims and visit prisoners of war on both sides. We can only do this life-saving work because we are understood to be a completely neutral, independent organisation. Put simply, our neutrality saves lives.

We can’t let people in need down by compromising our neutrality. That is why we do not align ourselves with any particular political cause or religious creed anywhere in the world. And that’s why we don’t have any items of a religious nature in our shops.

A nativity scene in a shop in Kent might seem like it has nothing to do with our sensitive, precarious work in a war zone in Africa or the Middle East. But in a world where information travels quickly and pervasively – a world where an eight-year-old news story is still raising questions with our supporters – we have to make sure we act consistently across the board with regard to our neutrality.

We wish all our supporters a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Golf buggy for first aid team


First aiders in golf buggyWe’ve got some brand new wheels. Ok, so it’s not exactly a Ferrari, and is a trifle slower, but oh so cute. Yes, Red Cross event first aid staff and volunteers are now zipping about in a customised golf buggy.

The new wheels suit us to a tee (sorry, couldn’t resist), and were funded by a £6,000 donation from the Dr Scholl Foundation. The buggy has been modified with the charity’s emblem, fluorescent hatching and a yellow warning light. If you’re wondering as to why we need this dinky vehicle – fear not there hasn’t been a surge in golf-related injuries – allow me to explain.

The golf buggy, which is being used by our Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Surrey branch, enables first aiders to easily navigate crowds at large events, getting to casualties faster. It also means we can transport them back to our first aid post or onto one of our ambulances, in comfort.

We’ve already got enough vehicles in our fleet to fill an entire episode of Top Gear. The fleet includes road ambulances, 4×4 ambulances, Land Rovers and fire and emergency support units.

In the event of an emergency, you can at least be sure of a smooth ride with the Red Cross.

Sign up for the Make a Difference Day challenge


man in a mohican wigTo celebrate Make a Difference Day today –  a big day for volunteering – I’m setting you a challenge, dear reader, to demonstrate how easy it is to make a difference by doing relatively little.

The challenge is to perform an act of kindness above and beyond what you would normally do, between now and Friday. Email me ( about what you’ve done and why. The most interesting acts will star on my blog next week, and be shared with our entire online community.

It can be absolutely anything. Here are a few ideas:

– wear a silly wig for the day to fundraise

– hold some sponsored sumo wrestling

– volunteer to do an elderly neighbour’s shopping

–  offer to walk someone’s dog

– make a cake for your colleagues

– help a stranger

man in a sumo suitWhat will you get out of it? Well, a warm do-gooder glow for starters, plus the chance to get your name and act(s) of kindness in lights on our blog site. Hopefully the challenge will also tickle your feelgood fancy enough for you to sign up as a volunteer with us; our opportunities are many, varied and super-flexible – perfect for busy lives.

Of course, I couldn’t set the challenge without completing it myself. So, on your marks, get set…do good!