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 young woman sits with a book and notebook on her lap holding her head while other students drink coffe and smile in the background

© Steve Debenport

 

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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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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Back to school? Don’t forget about first aid

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A girl in a secondary school first aid class holds a boy's arm to practise first aid for a broken bone

© Matt Percival/British Red Cross

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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World Humanitarian Day: meet the people we all rely on

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Today is World Humanitarian Day. Many aid workers are risking their lives to help people in dangerous places from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Afghanistan. Others are volunteering their time and skills to help others in their communities. Join us on a trip around the world to meet the people who are always ready to help in a crisis.

Italy
Italian Red Cross nurse Daniela and her team rescue a group of people stranded in a sinking boat in the Mediterranean.

Italian Red Cross nurse Daniela and her team rescue a group of people stranded in a sinking boat in the Mediterranean. The work on board the rescue boat is relentless as hundreds of people are rescued from the water every day. Aid workers like Daniela ensure people feel safe and protected. (Photo: Jason Florio / MOAS)

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The woman who saved a baby in the supermarket queue

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Picture of Julie Durrant who saved a baby choking in a supermarket“I’m not usually the sort of person to push myself forward in a crisis – I’m the sort who would stand back and wait for somebody else to act,” Julie Durrant admits.

But on the day she saw a baby choke in a supermarket, nobody came to help. So Julie stepped in.

Remembering a British Red Cross post she had recently seen on Facebook, Julie was able to save the baby.

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Doing it for mum: Red Cross trainer teaches 6,100 people first aid

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Red Cross trainer Tracey Waddoups demonstrating an AED on a resusci dummy

Big life events can trigger us to re-evaluate what is important in life. Tracey Waddoups from Derbyshire decided it was time for a change after losing her mum Jean to a heart attack at just 61 years old.

“After losing my mum, I decided that I wanted to do something that I am very passionate about,” Tracey explained.

And it turned out that was first aid. Tracey had always enjoyed learning first aid – but mainly as just a hobby.

Now she was ready to make a career out of it, quitting her comfortable job at an IT engineering company for life as a British Red Cross first aid trainer instead.

But she wasn’t just switching careers. Tracey also set herself a monumental challenge in memory of her late mum – to train 6,100 people in first aid.

And just last week she hit her target.

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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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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. 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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