Category: Health

How will you celebrate Refugee Week?


Liz & Teil with Emmanual Jal, refugee week 2008

What will you do to celebrate Refugee Week this June?
Last year I met Sudanese rap singer Emmanuel Jal at the Celebrating Sanctuary Fun Day in Bristol. I’ve never listened to rap before but I was very impressed with his music as he draws on his experience of being a child soldier. I learned something that day through listening to him. What a star.
If you read my first blog (Two interns for the price of one) you will know that we have James and Lilly working with us this year to co-ordinate our refugee week activities in Bristol, Swindon and Gloucester – they are doing a fantastic job and we have a very busy and exciting week planned.

What does the British Red Cross represent to you?


If you had asked me that same question three years ago I would have replied with something like this,,,,,,,

“The Red Cross works exclusively overseas in areas of conflict and disaster handing out food packs to hoards of starving people from little, white, beaten down Land Rovers.” I probably would have also added that I believed the Red Cross was a religious organisation – you know, with the cross as their emblem.


All hands to the bucket


It was “all hands to the bucket” last week during Red Cross Appeal Week. On Friday Sahra and I collected at a garden centre near Bristol – it was certainly a case of “come rain or shine” not to mention wind – we were pretty cold at the end of two hours.

But it was well worth it as a lot of people put money in our buckets and it is encouraging to know that so many want to give money to the Red Cross. Several people told us that the Red Cross is their favourite charity. More

Sanitation tests my sanity


My ‘facilities’ have been driving me crazy lately. Firstly, my boiler packs up and I’m telling you now I’m not a cold shower person. No problem I think, I’ve been paying my monthly insurance fee for just such an occasion for years – now it’s time for some payback. Except it’s not – I’m told my boiler is so decrepit there’s nothing they can do I just need to buy a new boiler, which will cost me £1,600! Ouch. Don’t they know I’m a charity worker? I decide to cancel my insurance and the guy on the phone points out that this may be a bit risky. I don’t care, I’m too mad right now.

Then the drain that serves the apartment above me gets blocked. It’s been like that for weeks and nasty smelling stuff is spilling over to the area outside my kitchen window. Anyone for afternoon tea?

Man drinking water from tap

I’m ashamed to say I spent the whole weekend whingeing but luckily for my family and friends when I came to work on Monday morning I got a bit of a reality check. More

The mind is a wonderful thing…


“The mind is a wonderful thing, it can set you free from social and material circumstance, it can empower you and it can define you, but it can also do the complete opposite”

A: Alzheimer’s.

What made me chose dementia as the topic for my first blog? Well until last week, I am ashamed to say, I had made huge (and mostly wrong) assumptions of the disease and the effect it has on both the person suffering and their families.

It all started with service user who arrived at our medical equipment service to collect a wheelchair for a relative (we’ll call her Lady X).


Tweeting from Zimbabwe


Ina Bluemel

Last week I told you a bit about our Twitter stream and how we’re using it to help the public understand what goes on behind the scenes at Red Cross projects.

This week I wanted to let you know about our latest ‘tweature’ (okay, I told my manager I wouldn’t use it, but I can’t help myself).

Ina Bluemel is a hygiene promotion officer working in Zimbabwe to make sure people know how to prevent the spread of cholera. She’s using Twitter to keep us up to date about the work she’s doing there. More

Not a bum deal


This might seem a cheeky question, but which of the following do you think gets up close and personal with an average of three bottoms every year? Is it:

A. A hot-wax hair removal specialist
B. A Red Cross wheelchair
C. Russell Brand

The answer, of course, is B. (For the curious among you, I’m really not sure how many hairy bums a year the hot-wax specialists encounter – and, frankly, I don’t want to know. Apparently, Russell Brand’s annual total is closer to 200, if you believe the newspapers.)

But what exactly does a Red Cross wheelchair do to get such an enviable track record on the derriere front? Well, the medical equipment service, available right through the UK, provides temporary loans of wheelchairs and other bits of kit designed to help people with injuries – or who’ve just had an operation – get through a difficult patch.

So, if Ben breaks his leg playing football but still wants to get out and about with his mates, a wheelchair will be a big help. (Providing his mates don’t wheel him to the middle of a field and leave him there, that is.) If young Sally twists her knee in gymnastics class, we have special kiddie-sized wheelchairs – not available in many NHS hospitals – on hand.

And, best of all, if Aunt Gladys from Dunoon wants to visit her grandkids in Brighton but has been feeling a bit frail, she can phone the Red Cross down south and order a wheelchair, which will be waiting for her when she arrives.

This little-known but wonderful service has been running successfully for donkey’s years now. Like crocodiles and rhinos, it’s one of those things that hasn’t really changed at all since its inception because it works so well.

Every year, thousands of volunteers put in the hours to make sure that, when times are tough, people have somewhere convenient – and mobile – to park their bum. And not one of them is obliged to spend any ‘quality’ time with Russell Brand.