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 different kind of fire-fighter

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Andy stood outside his fire damaged house with the two Red Cross volunteers who helped him start the recovery process following a house fire

Watching your home burn can be heart-breaking. As your belongings go up in flames, it can feel like your memories and life are too.  

“You don’t know how you’ll feel until that happens and I don’t want to feel like that again,” said Andy Goodwin.

Earlier on this year, he watched the fire service tackle a blazing fire which engulfed his home in Linden, Gloucester. He and his family had made it out safely thanks to a working smoke alarm.

But standing out in the cold on the street and in their nightclothes, Andy couldn’t focus on what to do next: “I was all at sixes and sevens. I was all over the place.”

Fortunately two British Red Cross volunteers were called upon by the fire service – and they had everything Andy needed at that very moment to cope with this crisis.

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Slime, mountains and miles: how far would you go to tackle loneliness?

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co-op_snowdon

Tackling loneliness is no mean feat. It’s a complicated and personal issue which can also carry an unfair degree of stigma. So where to start?

It’s been a year since the British Red Cross first announced we would be working in partnership with Co-op to help tackle loneliness and social isolation. By October, we were ready to get our partnership fully underway.

We started by looking at what we knew about loneliness, what we didn’t, and what we needed to. We involved other experts in this process along with people who have experienced loneliness.

Meanwhile Co-op rounded up its staff, members and customers to unleash what would become an incredible stream of fundraising activity.

And it turns out Co-op’s people are prepared to go pretty far to help tackle these issues.

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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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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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