Sam Smith

Sam Smith

Sam brings you the latest stories, interviews and updates about British Red Cross work in Syria, Africa and the Americas.

Posts by Sam Smith:

Meet the former heroin addict helping Grenfell Tower fire victims

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Carl volunteers for the Red Cross

Photo credit: Lexi Finnigan / British Red Cross

“If you saw me walking towards you at night you would be scared. The tattoos, the shaved head, the missing teeth. I get that, I understand that. People judge me by the way I look but once they speak to me I can explain. I’ve done a lot of taking in my life and now it’s time to give something back.”

Carl Chant is a 43-year-old ex-heroin addict from Llanelli, near Swansea. After being abused at the age of 12, he ran away from home and after living on the streets spent 13 years on and off in prison for robbery, drug dealing and burglary.

Today he sits at a British Red Cross table outside the Westway Sports Centre in west London – registering and supporting those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

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‘There’s no normal life’ – Grenfell fire victims share their stories

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grenfelltowerfire-20

Every day a steady flow of people pass through the doors of the Westway Sports Centre seeking help in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire. Each person has a story to tell. Three local residents share their stories and how the British Red Cross has helped them.

James Woodley

James lives opposite Grenfell Tower. Shortly after the fire broke out, he saw smoke filling the windows of residents’ homes.

“I saw three young children, all aged four to five, screaming for help. It was extremely distressing,” James recalls.

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Why I’m volunteering to help victims of the Grenfell Tower fire

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The incredible generosity in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire has seen people from all walks of life volunteering to help. The British Red Cross drafted in trained volunteers from across the country to help. Three volunteers share their stories. 

Red Cross volunteer Debie

Debi Haden, 50, a psychosocial support team member, from Norfolk

When you see the enormity of the situation, you can’t be anything but compelled to do something. I can’t change what has happened, I can’t take away the feelings people are experiencing, or what they’ve seen.

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What to do if you’ve been affected by Grenfell Tower fire

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grenfell-fire-volunteer-6This page is aimed at people directly affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

It is for residents, friends, family and neighbours. It will be updated with the latest official information about how to get help.

Grenfell Community Assistance Centre launched

People affected by the fire can go to the Grenfell Community Assistance Centre, located at The Curve, No 10 Bard Road, Nottingdale, West London, W10 6TP.

The centre is open 10am to 8pm.

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Community comes together after Grenfell Tower tragedy

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More than 30 Red Cross volunteers have been deployed since the incident started - ©MattPercival/BrtishRedCross

Dozens of Red Cross volunteers have been helping since the fire –
©MattPercival/BritishRedCross

“The community spirit is incredible, absolutely incredible,” said Phil Osler, reflecting on the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in West London.

“There is a constant stream of people coming in with offers of help – clothing, toiletries, food – everybody coming together, regardless of background or religion.

“At one point I was talking to a rabbi, an imam, and a pastor. Everyone is there for one thing and that is to help.” More

“We want to show good far outweighs bad” – The Borough Market chef cooking up a dish for London

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©GourmetGoat

Nick and Nadia Stokes are supporting our ‘Saturday Night for London’ campaign – ©GourmetGoat

“I always thought something like this could never happen in Borough Market. It’s a food market. It’s sacrosanct. Kind of a bubble that could not be penetrated.”

You can hear the emotion in Nadia Stokes’ voice as she recalls the events of last weekend that claimed eight lives and injured dozens more.

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Loneliness in the UK: “If you’ve got the spare time, what better way is there of using it?”

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Volunteering, loneliness, UK

Gareth Spencer volunteers with the Red Cross in Wales – ©TimMossford/UNP

Whether he’s repairing shoes or volunteering, Gareth Spencer is certainly finding different ways to help people put their best foot forward. 

The part-time cobbler from Pontypridd, Wales, is a volunteer for the British Red Cross. Over the past year, he’s helped many people overcome issues like loneliness. You could too.

“If you’ve got the spare time, what better way is there of using it?” said Gareth. More