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:

Widowed, homeless and hungry – the desperate plight of people fleeing Myanmar

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©IFRC/AJGhani

Rajuma Khatun fled Myanmar with her two children – ©IFRC/AJGhani

At the age of 25, Rajuma Khatun is a mother, a widow, and without a home. She is also exhausted.

The mother-of-two has barely eaten or slept since arriving in Bangladesh, having fled the violence in Myanmar.

It took her family seven days to travel from their home in Rakhine State to the relative safety of a settlement in Thangkhali, near the border.

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‘Hurricane Maria is slowing the relief effort, but it won’t stop us’

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Volunteers register people in need of help

Volunteers register people in need of help

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have brought widespread destruction to the Caribbean. Trevor Queeley, from the Anguilla Red Cross, says Maria is delaying the aid effort, but his teams are eager to get back to helping people.  

Hurricane Maria is battering our shores, less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma brought devastation to Anguilla. As I write this, people are sheltering from powerful winds and tropical storm conditions.

We don’t have any reports of injuries on Anguilla as yet, but that could change. I know some people have lost their temporary shelter materials, such as tarpaulins, so we’ll need additional supplies.

But we’re lucky that we’re only experiencing the outer edges of Hurricane Maria.

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From discussing beans on toast to campaigning against landmines, memories of Princess Diana’s work with the Red Cross

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Diana visiting children at Hindleap Warren in 1985

Diana visiting children at Hindleap Warren in 1985

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death. Throughout her life, the Princess was a dedicated humanitarian who championed causes in the UK and overseas. We look back on her journey with the Red Cross.

Princess Diana was always committed to using her public profile to bring about positive change.

A firm believer in the power of young people, she became patron of the Red Cross Youth in 1983, which gave her an increasingly visible role with the British Red Cross.

In July 1985, Diana visited a Red Cross adventure camp for disabled children at Hindleap Warren, in East Sussex.

Barbara Summerfield, 85, from Saltdean, was a youth officer at the time and has fond memories of Diana’s visit.

“What went down well, more than anything else, was that Diana was a real person who the children could talk to,” said Barbara.

Diana spending time with children at Hindleap Warren in 1985

Diana spending time with children at Hindleap Warren in 1985

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India partition – looking back at the Red Cross response to the refugee crisis

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Milk is distributed at refugee children at a camp in Multan, Pakistan

Milk is distributed to children at a refugee camp in Multan, Pakistan – ©BritishRedCross

India and Pakistan are celebrating 70 years of independence next week. While their new-found independence was a cause for celebration, the partition of British India in August 1947 triggered one of the largest population movements in history as millions were displaced. We take a look at how the British Red Cross responded to the crisis.

The partition of India and subsequent creation of Pakistan came after years of campaigning for Indian independence from British rule.

Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, who would become India’s first prime minister, and Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the first governor general of Pakistan, lobbied and protested tirelessly along with countless others for the sovereignty independence offered.

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Yemen crisis: an urgent plea for change from the Red Cross

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A young girl in Yemen stands on a steep pile of rubble holding a doll

© ICRC

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, spent this week meeting people in war-torn Yemen. He has released the following statement calling on all parties to the conflict to take steps now to alleviate the dire situation. 

I am leaving Yemen profoundly concerned for the plight of its people. The cholera outbreak remains alarming.

With the rainy season approaching, we expect more than 600,000 cases by the end of the year. This is unprecedented.

This outbreak is manmade. It is a direct consequence of more than two years of warfare. The health-care system has collapsed, with people dying from easily-treatable chronic diseases.

Key services like garbage disposal have ceased to function, as I saw all too clearly in Taiz.

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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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