Category: Health

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.

Two interns for the price of one


This has been my lucky day! I drove to Bristol this morning hoping to recruit an intern and ended up taking on two! James and Lily will be working hard over the next three months to co-ordinate the activities that the British Red Cross is planning in Bristol and Swindon to celebrate Refugee Week in June.

Both James and Lily are so enthusiastic about their voluntary internship and the opportunities it will give them. As for me, I’m really pleased that they have agreed to join us – I’m sure that they will have a brilliant time at the Red Cross and will do a fantastic job for us. They will certainly be a huge support to me and my team.

Last year in Refugee Week the Red Cross helped to organise an evening of celebration in Swindon – people from the refugee community entertained members of the public with a fashion show, dancing, singing and a very moving poem about the pain of leaving home. It was a fantastic evening and raised a lot of awareness. We are planning something similiar again this year as well as taking part in a number of events in Bristol.

I’ll keep you posted about how James and Lily get on and the activities we are planning. Meanwhile why don’t you find out how you can become an intern at the Red Cross – I promise you won’t regret it!

Photo: © Frantzesco Kangaris (BRC)

A dog called Lucky


You probably already know the joke I’m thinking of: ‘My dog’s blind, asthmatic and only has three legs.’ ‘What’s its name?’ ‘Lucky.’

Well, in many respects, that tale of canine misadventure reminds me of my friend Liz’s predicament. Over the past five years, she’s had breast cancer (twice), countless chemotherapy sessions, ongoing heart trouble and a badly arthritic right hip that has rendered her virtually immobile.

But there’s something else that Liz – now aged 61 and with only one sister living hundreds of miles away in Sheffield – has had. And that’s a core group of good friends and kind neighbours who think the world of her. More