Laura Oakley

Laura Oakley

Laura brings you all the latest stories from the British Red Cross' work across the UK – from emergency response to health and social care – as well as West and Central Africa.

Posts by Laura Oakley:

Students: Are you sure that’s freshers’ flu and not meningitis?

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A group of students are sat in a communal area of their accommodation. One of them is showing signs of meningitis.

The new academic term is a time for meeting fresh faces, getting to grips with new timetables… and freshers’ flu. But are you sure that’s what your flu-like symptoms are?

Students sometimes miss the signs of a much more serious illness known as meningitis because its symptoms are similar to that of freshers’ flu – the collective coughs, fevers and viruses caught during your first few weeks at university.

Meningitis is rare – but can be life threatening. Students are at more risk of it because they often live in close proximity to one another.

So if you’re heading to university this month, make sure you know the signs.

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Bridget Jones’ Baby: Top first aid tips for new parents

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Bridget Jones GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY The long awaited third-instalment of Bridget Jones is here – and this time Bridget’s having a baby.

While her most pressing concern is working out who’s the daddy (#definitelydarcy or #totallyjack?), Bridget will soon have plenty more to think about – keeping her baby safe from harm.

But don’t fear Bridget. The British Red Cross has it covered.

Here are our five top first aid tips for new parents – and Bridget.

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The health and social care crisis: Joyce’s story

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Joyce Hall with a Red Cross volunteer who helped her regain her independence after she broke her arm Joyce waited an agonising two days before going to hospital with a badly broken arm. She couldn’t just go to the hospital – she had her younger brother to think about.

As the sole carer for Lenny, who has epilepsy and learning difficulties, she was worried about leaving him alone. He was unable to do everyday tasks like getting dressed and feeding himself.

But after two days of pain she had little choice.

The British Red Cross met Joyce for the first time when she was discharged from the hospital and referred to our support at home service.

We were able to help her not just through her recovery, but find more support for her and Lenny from other services in the long-term too.

But with six consecutive years of budget cuts and an increasing demand on health and social care services, the system in England has become unsustainable. The care people like Joyce and Lenny need, is at risk.

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Great North Run: ‘I thought I may as well make myself useful’

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Anthony (left) with other Red Cross first aid volunteers at the Great North Run

Completing a half marathon would be a good enough excuse for most of us to put our feet up. But not for Anthony Higgins.

At the weekend he completed the 13.1 mile Great North Run – and then started a shift immediately afterwards offering first aid to other runners as a British Red Cross volunteer.

“When I got a place in the ballot for the race I thought I may as well make myself useful after the finish line,” the 28-year-old said.

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Don’t stop at 999: ‘If it wasn’t for you, she could have died’

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Natasha applied pressure to an elderly woman's bleeding leg to help stem the flow of blood.

As Natasha headed home after a routine hospital check-up, she spotted a commotion up ahead. At first she couldn’t make out what was happening – then she saw the pool of blood. 

“All I could see from the distance was just this red pool gathering and it was getting bigger and bigger,” Natasha said.

She knew she had to help.

“I don’t know why or what came over me – everyone was flapping and no one was helping. I dropped my bag and ran – I’d say about half a mile down the street!” Natasha said.

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Back to school? Don’t forget about first aid

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A group of young people learning first aid.

A group of young people learning first aid.

The long summer holiday is over – it’s time to head back to school. What’s the most important thing you think pupils will learn this year?

Perhaps they will conquer equations, master French, or triumphantly learn the periodic table off by heart.

But what if they learnt how to save a life?

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Five ways to support the Red Cross with your bank holiday weekend

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Use your bank holiday for good with these five ideas – from donating unwanted clothes to a day out near you. Take your pick.

1. Gardens galore

British Red Cross Open Gardens ambassador Tamsin Westhorpe in her garden

Get out and about this bank holiday by visiting an Open Garden or share your own outdoor space with friends, family and neighbours with Proud of Your Garden.

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Football and first aid: ‘I was seconds away from thinking: “This is it”’

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Ryan Gayler stands holding a football. He performed first aid when two football players collided during a match

Up and down the country, people are buzzing with excitement and anticipation – the football season is back.

And while the professionals battle to climb the league tables, we’re enjoying a kickabout, too. Football is part of the weekly routine for over 1.6 million people in England alone.*

Ryan Gayler manages AFC Vardeanians Football Club in Sussex. When his son organised a last-minute friendly between the players from the club, Ryan turned up to watch. He’d hoped to show off his own footy skills with a few minutes of play time towards the end.

But 20 minutes into the match, a head clash stopped play. Ryan was called upon for a different set of skills – first aid.

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