Category: Health

Kindness: decoded

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A British Red Cross volunteer sits inside a van and speaks to another volunteer through the window. They are planning their activities for the day.

 

We admit: here at the British Red Cross, we’re always talking about kindness.

It’s because we believe it has the power to change someone’s world – and we see it happening, day in day out, through our incredibly selfless volunteers.

So, to kick off OneKindThing, we wanted to dig a little deeper and see what you thought about kindness. We sent a survey out to over 2,000 people in the UK, and we’ve decoded its results.*

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For Mother’s Day, a mum-of-four opens up about how she overcame loneliness

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Sarah, a mother who was helped by the British Red Cross loneliness service and Home-Start, sits and looks into the distance

Sarah, © Percy Dean/British Red Cross

Sarah was 24 when she had her first child. Now, she is 32 and a mother to four.

Looking back, Sarah says she realises she had been feeling lonely since the birth of her first baby. Things came to a head two years ago when she moved to a new area and didn’t know anybody.

Research by the British Red Cross and Co-op has shown that many young parents find themselves in the same position as Sarah. Despite its joys, becoming a parent is one of the big life transitions that can lead to loneliness.

“How do you make new friends when you don’t know anyone?”

“It was very scary to move somewhere where I didn’t know anybody, I’ve never been alone like that before,” Sarah said.

“At first it was very difficult. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or anyone who could come to visit me. I was just spending most of my time at home, I didn’t have anyone to see or anywhere to go.

“It sounds weird but I didn’t know how to socialise, how do you make friends when you don’t know anyone in this city? I didn’t even have any way of meeting people.”

Luckily, joining a support group for young mums run by family support charity Home-Start helped Sarah make new connections.

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Letting the breaks off: why wheelchairs matter

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A British Red Cross volunteer kneels and speaks to a woman sitting in wheelchair that she borrowed from the Red Cross

Imagine you have just had surgery on your hip after a bad fall.

You’ve been in hospital recovering and you’ve been told you mustn’t put any weight on your leg. You are ready to go home and you can’t wait to get back, make your own dinner, see your friends, go to the shops.

With your crutches in hand and longing for home, you’re on your way. But it’s much harder than you expect and you realise crutches aren’t a suitable aid for you.

You try to explain this, but are simply told that is all that’s on offer. Gradually you realise you are going to struggle.

Many people just accept that they are stuck at home. They may be unable to get out or go to work, and have to depend on others. Some face days or months of isolation, loneliness and even depression.

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Fighting Ebola in a conflict zone

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This blog was updated on 15 May 2019

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Red Cross volunteer wearing surgical scrubs helps another volunteer get dressed in a protective suit that covers his whole body and eyes to avoid Ebola

Protective clothing for safe burial, © Baron Nkoy/ICRC

Your country is at war and has been for years. And there are not just two armies fighting, but instead around 30 armed groups.

Anywhere and everywhere can be a battlefield and nobody knows when the next round of violence will break out.

They don’t just attack each other – kidnappings, random shootings and sexual assaults are common.

Then people start to die from a disease you’ve never seen or heard of before.

People suddenly arrive from other towns, or even other countries and continents.

They tell you to change how you have always done things so you and your family won’t get ill. But you don’t know if what they are saying is true.

Even the name they use for this mystery disease is new to you: Ebola.

Yet it has already taken more than 1,000 people’s lives in your area.

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Terry made life worth living again

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Ken sits next to British Red Cross volunteer Terry, who helps support people in his community, and both are laughing

Ken and Terry, © British Red Cross

“I wouldn’t have cared if I lived or died,” said Ken, 92.

Ken was heartbroken when his wife Ann died after over 60 years of marriage.

Sadly, Ann had developed dementia and Ken was caring for her at home. But in January, Ken was in a car accident and had to spend several months in hospital.

Injuries to his neck and ankle meant he couldn’t walk or move around as well as he used to.

Then, while he was in hospital, Ann passed away. Ken returned alone to the home they once shared.

“It was a very, very sad time,” he said. “I couldn’t see the point.”

“But that was when I met this bright chap, Terry.”

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First aid in school: saving lives will be on the curriculum

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Eight-year-old Stephen stands in his school uniform holding a sign that says 'I can save a life so can you'

Stephen learned first aid in schools and saved a woman’s life © Mike Poloway/UNPChristchurch School, Skipton. 4 December 2017. Stephen Orbeldaze.

Great news! The government is planning to add first aid to the school curriculum in England.

Years of campaigning by the British Red Cross and other organisations are finally paying off. Children and young people will now get the skills they need to save a life.

Why is first aid in school so important?

British Red Cross research found that more than nine in ten adults (95%)* would not be able, confident or willing to help in three life-threatening first aid emergencies.

Teaching first aid in schools will help change this. We want everyone to know how to save a life.

But does first aid education in school really work?

Yes. Red Cross teaching resources have helped children and young people learn first aid in school for years.

So we know that children who learn first aid go on to use it. These real-life stories of young first aiders show how this works.

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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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