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:

Older couple ‘tickled pink’ by Facebook

By

Tom and Jean Fussell learning to use their tablet with Red Cross volunteer Jo

In this day and age you can stay connected to your nearest and dearest with the touch of button. You can Skype your cousin in Canada and WhatsApp a picture of Meera the cat to your sister. You can even share your holiday snaps with friends on Instagram.

But only if you know how.

Tom and Jean Fussell did not. The couple from Radstock, both in their eighties, felt cut off from their loved ones dotted across the globe.

They had bought a tablet in the hope they could stay in touch. But they hadn’t learnt how to use it.

“It’s all new to us. We were brought up in a different era,” Jean said.

“When we went to school we had chalk and slate and a pen you had to dip in ink.”

But with a little help from a British Red Cross volunteer, that was about to change.

More

Quiz: How helpful would you be on a stag or hen party?

By

Conditions on a hen or stag party are perfect for the bystander effect to kick in. Act to overcome it.

The wedding season may be upon us but before anyone says “I do”, there’s one last party to be had. It’s stag and hen party time.

Hopefully you’ll have a first-aid-free evening. And even if something does go wrong, you’re sure you’ll spring to the aid of anyone who needs it.

Right? Maybe not.

There’s a phenomenon called the bystander effect taking hold of party-goers across the UK.

Would you stand by or step in? Take the quiz to find out.

More

In the nick of time: ‘I feared giving birth in the car’

By

Red Cross volunteers Nigel and Stuart with Claire and baby Tori

As thousands of runners’ feet pounded the roads in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on 10 April, an expectant mum was desperately trying to find a way through the resulting traffic.

Claire Burke had gone into labour.

She had been driving to her mum’s for breakfast with her eight-year-old daughter Mia when she’d started to feel the contractions.

“At first I thought they were Braxton Hicks (false labour),” Claire said.

But as she tried to navigate through the road closures and diversions, the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Before long they were coming every minute.

More

Five ways runners could save the day with first aid

By

Runners in a marathon

Whether you’re training for a marathon, a 10k or just enjoy the odd jog, as a regular runner you’re in a unique position to help others. But you might not be aware of it.

Being out and about early in the morning or in remote areas means you could be the first person to bump into someone in a first aid crisis. Would you be able to help?

More

Imagining the unimaginable: coping with a disaster

By

A fake disaster scene as part of the Exercise Unified Response training exercise.

Unfortunately disasters do happen. And when they do, you can rely on our help thanks to some gory make-up, a bunch of actors, and a pretend tube train…

You know what they say: practice makes perfect. When disaster does strike, we must be able to co-ordinate with the emergency services to reduce casualties and distress.

That’s why we travelled to Kent to put our volunteers’ skills to the test in Exercise Unified Response – Europe’s biggest emergency training exercise organised by the London Fire Brigade.

More

‘Knowing first aid helped me save a motorcyclist’s life’

By

Helen Cowen used her first aid skills to save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed outside her home.Not everyone could handle the sight of a bloodied motorcyclist with a badly severed leg. Helen Cowen could, and her first aid knowledge saved a man’s life.

As 13 March is Good Samaritan Day, what better time to tell you Helen’s story?

“I had decided to sit in the garden one evening when I heard a loud crash,” Helen said.

“At first I thought something had fallen off our recently renovated house. But as I walked to the front of the house, I could see a small crowd gathered on the pavement outside.”

The scene outside her house was upsetting.

More

From hospital to home sweet home

By
Kathleen and Derek Parsons sat down in their home

Kathleen and Derek Parsons

A bad fall is enough to leave anyone feeling vulnerable and shaken. The British Red Cross can’t catch you as you fall – unless one of our staff or volunteers just happens to be at the right place at the right time! But we can help you pick up the pieces afterwards.

When Derek Parsons stumbled in his garden, he smashed his glasses, broke his hearing aid and ended up with a bleeding cut around his left eye.

Without his ‘eyes and ears’, the 83-year-old was understandably shaken. His wife and son gave him comfort as he waited for an ambulance to arrive.

Later at Poole hospital in Dorset, Derek ended up needing 15 stitches and was kept in overnight. Fortunately he hadn’t broken his eye socket as feared, so was free to go home the next day.

Except Derek had no way of getting home. His wife Kathleen doesn’t drive and his adult sons were either tied up at work or looking after children.

More