Category: Health

Fighting Ebola in a conflict zone

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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.

Elections are a month away. You feel it’s likely that tensions will get worse.

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.

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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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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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