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:

A knit and natter: “I’m enjoying making new memories”

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Tydfil sat with Janet who was the Red Cross volunteer who helped her to regain her independence

Tydfil Wood was more used to caring for others than being the one cared for. As a former district nurse in Rhondda, Wales, she had looked after many people in her community over the years – even earning herself the nickname Sister Wood.

But after the death of her husband, life became a lot lonelier for the retiree. Tydfil found herself spending a lot more time alone at home.

“I would receive visits from the family but getting out independently was a problem,” Tydfil said.

She could no longer drive because of her arthritis and eventually lost her confidence to go out altogether.

Her daughter Gaynor was concerned. But when she came across a British Red Cross project called Positive Steps, she thought it might be just what her mum needed.

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Wheels of recovery: how a wheelchair helped mend a broken ice-skater

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Julie with her broken leg in a cast

When Julie Maxwell left hospital after weeks of being treated for a badly broken leg, she was keen to get home. But she dreaded being confined to the sofa.

The primary school secretary from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland had been on a trip to the Big Apple with her friend Zara-lee.

But her decision to skate around the famous ice rink at New York’s Rockefeller Centre just one last time had shattered Julie’s holiday – and leg – to pieces.

Fortunately going home was not as bad as Julie had imagined – all because of a little help from a wheelchair.

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Festival ready? Don’t forget these five festival essentials

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Group of people at a music festivalIt’s time to dig out your wellies, dust off your tent and hunt for that hard-earned ticket you spent ages queuing online for. The festival season is upon us.

Whether you’re off to the cultural sensation that is WOMAD, or escaping the hustle and bustle of modern life at Wilderness – the festival checklist is always the same.

Wellies: check. Trendy (or outrageous) hat: check. A waterproof tent: well, fingers crossed.

Even if you do forget something, you can usually improvise – ask anyone who’s ever rocked the bin-bag poncho look.

But even so, there are a few small things well-worth taking. Don’t forget these five festival essentials.

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Dad saves son choking on 20p coin

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Ugo with his son Reuben. He used first aid when his son was choking on a 20p coin.

Many of us will give our dads little tokens of appreciation to mark Father’s Day this month. But some of us may have more reason than others to express our thanks – like little Reuben.

After coming home from a family day out, dad Ugo had laid Reuben down to change his nappy – something he’d done hundreds of times before.

But unbeknown to Ugo, Reuben was holding on to a 20 pence coin his uncle had given to him as pocket money earlier on that day.

When Ugo turned his back, Reuben put the coin in his mouth – and started to choke.

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Meet Michael: Norwich City fan and super first aider

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British Red Cross first aider Michael Segon with Norwich City FC player Martin Olsson

Volunteers are the backbone of the British Red Cross. They never cease to amaze us with their dedication. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, you come across someone like Michael Segon.

Michael is one of our first aid volunteers. He recently celebrated a whopping 60 years of volunteering with the Red Cross.

Over the years he has provided first aid at a wide range of events in the Norwich area.

But his bread and butter has been the matches at Norwich City Football Club. He’s been on duty at more than 1,700 games.

Being a massive Norwich City fan, Michael has loved being able to combine his love for first aid with football.

And despite recently suffering a heart attack, Michael is determined to continue volunteering.

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Why ‘bed-blocking’ isn’t the real problem

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A woman lies in a hospital bed

Many patients are fit to leave hospital – but they can’t. Why? Because the right care and support isn’t available for them at home. They find themselves trapped in hospital beds – beds that are needed for new patients.

These people are commonly known as ‘bed-blockers’ – as if they themselves are the problem.

According to BBC analysis of NHS figures released today, more than one in 10 patients in England face long delays for a hospital bed after emergency admission.*

This is an issue. But let’s be clear – it is almost always never the fault of the patient. These delays are caused by pressure on health services and a lack of investment in care services for adults.

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One very big red weekend

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Mike Adamson Red Cross CEO at bake sale with Co-op staff from Malmsbury store as part of the Big Red Weekend.

A flurry of fundraising fun swept across the UK at the weekend as employees of The Co-operative Group marked this year’s Red Cross Week.

From bake sales to sponsored cycles, raffles to slime baths, Co-op staff were busy raising funds as part of our charity partnership to help tackle loneliness and social isolation across the UK.

Last month it was announced that The Co-op had already raised £1million towards this partnership – so we were excited to see what went down at Co-op stores all over the country for the Big Red Weekend.

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Home from hospital: time for change

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Raymond Attrell with Anna Holecz

Raymond Attrell with British Red Cross support worker Anna Holecz.

The day you get the OK to return home after being in hospital, should be a really good day. So why are some people afraid to go home?

You’ve recovered. You should be feeling better, positive and confident that you can cope with life at home – with whatever support you have arranged.

But a report has revealed that’s not always the case. Vulnerable patients, often frail or elderly, are being sent home from hospital too early – afraid and with little support.

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