Category: Health

After her partner’s death, Sarah helps others cope with bereavement

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Someone holds a photo of Sarah and her partner Graham with leaflets from Cruse Bereavement Care behind it on a table

Sarah and Graham

When Sarah Sweeney’s partner Graham died suddenly while they were on holiday, she was plunged into terrible grief. Now, she plans to use her experience to help others who feel alone after the death of a loved one.

“I lost my partner, Graham, five months ago while we were on holiday,” Sarah said.

“It was completely unexpected. ‘Devastation’ doesn’t even come close, there just aren’t the words to really explain or understand this.

“He was 52 years old and I am 53. We were so active, young at heart, sporty and adventurous. We lived life to the max. We thought we had the rest of lives ahead of us.”

Sarah suddenly had to learn to live without Graham.

From being an outgoing person who planned to spend the rest of her life with the man she loved, Sarah began to dread the weekends. This was the time they used to spend together.

“The death of my partner has changed me,” Sarah said. “Many of the things that I used to do without even thinking about it – cycling, going to the gym, going out for dinner or to the local coffee shop – I avoided.

“It is so easy to become completely isolated.”

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Amanda saved her grandad after learning first aid

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Amanda stands with her arm on the shoulder of her grandada, who she helped with first aid when he was bleeding heavily

Amanda and her grandad © Mike Poloway/British Red Cross

It was a peaceful Sunday at home. But when there was a sudden emergency, Amanda knew how to help her grandad when he needed it most.

“I was in my house with my family, my boyfriend and my grandad. He’d come round for a visit and a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon,” Amanda said.

“After a while, my grandad went up the stairs and a few moments later I heard him shouting my name.

“There hadn’t been a bang or anything, so I didn’t know at this stage he had fallen. But when I got to the bottom of the stairs he was propped up on the wall at the top.

“I could tell something was wrong. As I went up towards him he pulled up his trouser leg, and all this blood spurted all over the wall.

“He said he’d just lost his footing on the top step and fallen. He’d cut himself on the edge of the stair.”

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Birthday presents for the NHS at 70

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An elderly woman and a young woman kiss each other on the cheek and exchange flowers and a wrapped present

We wish the NHS a very happy birthday . Photo © Eva Katalin Kondoros

Mike Adamson is chief executive of the British Red Cross

As the NHS turns 70, over the next month a lot of people will be talking about its health, now and for the future.

There will be calls for sweeping changes.

Some will gaze into a future of technology and innovation. Others will say we should get back to basics.

But really, it’s much more complicated than that.

Of course it is. Even when we celebrated the birth of the NHS in 1948, the Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan at the time sounded a note of caution.

He warned that there would be “no miraculous removal of our more serious shortages of nurses and others and of modern re-planned buildings and equipment…”

These words of seven decades past have a very modern ring.

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Four things to know about care

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A Red Cross volunteer provides social care by helping an older woman walk down a path

At the British Red Cross, we want everyone to get the support they need to live as independently as possible.

But a new report by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation found that this odoes not always happen.

Instead, a growing number of people who have recently left hospital are being admitted again – sometimes just a few days later.

Our In and out of hosptial report confirms this, showing that a lack of social care support leads to people having to go into hospital again and again. Sadly, opportunities to change this are often missed.

Every year the Red Cross supports thousands of people coming home from hospital.

Here are four key things we know about care based on the stories we have heard from the people who use our services.

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“It’s been such an amazing journey” – Hollie Booth and RISE in Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals

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Thirteen-year-old Hollie Booth from Sheffield is just like any other teenage girl who loves Ariana Grande and lives to dance.

Caught up in the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May last year, Hollie’s aunt Kelly Brewster was tragically killed, while Hollie herself was left seriously injured.

But she was determined to do all she could to recover and return to her passion of dancing.

Now she and her dance troupe, RISE Unbroken, are preparing to perform live on national TV – on one of the biggest talent shows in the country.

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Manchester attack survivor Hollie through to next stage of Britain’s Got Talent – thanks to Red Cross

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“It’s been a very difficult journey for us as a family over the last year.”

Last May, Claire Booth, 35, her 13-year-old daughter Hollie and Claire’s sister Kelly Brewster went to see Ariana Grande in concert at the Manchester Arena.

Tragically, it became the scene of one of the UK’s worst terror attacks, claiming the lives of 22 people – including Kelly.

“My own injuries were quite minor, and I was fine after a few months,” Claire said.

“But Hollie was left severely injured as a result of the attack… and my sister sadly lost her life.”

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You’re not alone in feeling alone

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John Ball knows what it’s like to feel lonely.

His second wife, Marie, died last year. John spent Christmas without his family or friends.

John, aged 71 from Plympton in Devon, knew that Christmas without her would be a difficult and emotional milestone.

“I knew what was coming because I’d already been through it once,” John said. His first wife, Janet, had died when she was just 44 years old.

“I knew how lonely I would feel without Marie. I didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to invite me to Christmas dinner, so I took myself away on a coach holiday to Nottingham.

“Yet simple things like watching people get off the coach in couples as I followed along by myself really brought it home how lonely I was.” More

“How a wrong number changed my life”: a disabled volunteer’s story

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Mark Belton, a disabled volunteer, wears a British Red Cross t-shirt and smiles

Mark Belton, Red Cross volunteer © British Red Cross

“I think back on how I felt six or seven years ago and so much has changed,” Mark Belton said.

Mark first noticed that his sight was getting worse in his teens. His mum, nan and sister all had an inherited eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

“By the age of 18 or 19 I knew I had it too.

“My eyesight was deteriorating,” Mark said.

“It was a real blow, it was half expected but it sort of knocks you back. I had just got my new job then as an upholsterer.”

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