Category: UK

Post relating to the British Red Cross in the United Kingdom

Little steps make a big fundraising difference

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Yesterday, my colleague Mark and I took a break from our workstations to climb up the Eiffel Tower…twice – and then halfway up again for good measure. Not literally you understand. No, over a long lunch we climbed the equivalent of the famous landmark by completing our Big Red Climb, to raise money for Red Cross Appeal Week.

It involved hiking up the six flights of stairs here at our London office…again and again… 34 times (and getting the lift down each time). It wasn’t the most thrilling walk I’ve ever done. Instead of mountain vistas and the clanging of cowbells, we had only the sight of grey office blocks and the gentle thud of the loo doors opening and shutting on each floor as we climbed the building.

However, it was certainly one of the most rewarding; after just a few days fundraising we had raised more than £800 (£300 more than our original target) mainly through our Justgiving page (there’s still time to donate) after emailing friends and appealing on Facebook.

We began our challenge at 2.14pm and by 3.03pm had climbed up 100 floors – our target. The problem was we weren’t really tired. Seeing as we had smashed our fundraising target by quite some way,  we thought it wouldn’t really be fair to stop when we were hardly breaking a sweat. Where’s the challenge in that?  So, on we climbed.

At one point as we were getting into the lift, Nick Young, our chief executive walked by: “Are you the two nuts doing the climbing challenge,” he asked, before pressing a crisp £10 note into my hand for our efforts.

As word got round about what we were doing, other colleagues popped out onto the stairwell to offer support. By 3.54pm we had completed 200 floors and made it back to our desks just in time to spot a colleague wheeling by a trolley of homemade cakes on sale for Red Cross Appeal Week.

So you see, fundraising is easier than you think. All it took to bring in our £800 was a simple idea (thanks Mark), a Justgiving page, a few emails and messages to friends and contacts through Facebook and other social networks …oh and a very long, slightly sweaty lunchhour.

Feeling inspired? Why not get involved and come up with your own mini challenge or event for Red Cross Appeal Week? All it takes is a few small steps.

Red Cross recipes: let's cook up a storm!

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three red chilli peppersIt’s been a mouth-watering Red Cross Appeal Week so far at British Red Cross HQ, with trolleys of cookies and cakes doing the rounds here to raise money for the organisation alongside many other fun fundraising activities. Find out how you can get involved.

To add further flavour to this our annual fundraising push, which ends on Saturday, I have tapped the culinary genius of some of my colleagues for a few of their favourite ‘red recipes’ for your enjoyment:

Harriet’s Red Cross salad

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

1 buffalo mozzarella, sliced into squares
2 buffalo tomatoes, sliced into squares
basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Method

On a round plate, place the tomatoes so they resemble a cross and place the mozzarella around the cross.  Add torn basil leaves around the outside. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of vinegar and serve.

Daniel’s chickpea and chilli curry

(Serves 6-ish..depending how hungry you are)

Ingredients:

1 onion (chopped)
2  garlic cloves (chopped)
2  cans of chickpeas
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1  can of coconut milk
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp of red chilli powder/ or chilli flakes
good handful of chopped fresh coriander

Method

Heat a good lug of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Let them soften up a bit then chuck in the chickpeas, garlic, cumin and chilli. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and leave to heat up thoroughly, but not to boiling point. Add the coriander to taste/garnish. Serve with rice and/or naan bread.

Andrew’s scarlet heaven

Add a dash of port to a glass of red wine, and serve with a cherry on the side!

From flag days to Facebook: the evolution of Red Cross Appeal Week

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Red Cross Appeal Week is upon us once again and it’s big news for us staff and volunteers.

However, there are lots of other people – perhaps you included – who don’t have a clue what it’s all about.  So as someone who looked blank when I first heard Red Cross Appeal Week mentioned, soon after I joined the Red Cross, I’m here to enlighten you.

Think of it as a whopper of a  fundraising push, where Red Cross staff, volunteers and members of the public  pull out all the stops to generate as much cash as possible over one week for the organisation.

They do this each and every year with great enthusiasm, energy and imagination. I’m doing my bit this time round by doing some street collecting and taking on a challenge my colleague Mark and I have devised – the Big Red Climb. Read all about it, and if you’re feeling generous, please donate on our Justgiving page; we are hoping to raise £500.

What is now known as Red Cross Appeal Week began during the Second World War , when the Red Cross raised massive sums of money through flag days. One of these, in December 1942 for prisoners of war, prompted the most flag sellers ever, with many relatives of prisoners of war fundraising. It was the most successful flag day of the Second World War raising nearly £400,000.

Despite the need to improvise when some flags and collecting tins were destroyed by enemy action, the twelve flag days held during the Second World War raised more than £2.6 million of vital funds. Red Cross Appeal Week, the modern day equivalent of flag days, started in 1971, and has continued to raise millions of pounds.

A lot has changed since then and today Appeal Week takes place as much online as it does outdoors. You can join the Facebook Appeal Week group, share your photos on Flickr, watch our music video on YouTube and tweet away to your heart’s content using #RCAW. There’s also a special sticker you can add to your Twitter or Facebook profile picture to show the world that you’re supporting the Red Cross this week.

So, now you know what it’s all about, you’ll want to get involved. There are all sorts of ways you can help – big and small, conventional and more wacky. Sign up now and help us make this the best Red Cross Appeal Week ever.

Find out what’s happening near you and how you can get involved

Why I’m cycling across Britain for the Red Cross

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Guest post from Megan Lucas

It had never crossed my mind that I would need the services of the Red Cross.

I thought I was aware of many of the wonderful ways in which the British Red Cross helps people both in the UK and across the globe, but clearly I didn’t know about them all. That changed very quickly two days before Christmas in 2008, when I found myself receiving their help after my life suddenly, and without warning, was turned upside-down.

At 5 in the morning, my partner and I were woken by the sound of exploding Christmas decorations, the bedroom quickly started to fill with thick, black and acrid smoke, followed by a further bang as the house electrics finally gave in, combined with the most terrible noise of the fire taking hold in the living room. Our home had turned into one of the most inhospitable environments imaginable in an instant due to an electrical fault with our television.

We happened to be renovating at the time which had resulted in our smoke detector being temporarily unplugged, so our lives were saved by the noise of the exploding baubles, and in another fortuitous moment, the front door keys were quickly found so we could escape the house and call 999. The fire brigade arrived within minutes, although it felt like an eternity, and they set to work extinguishing the fire whilst an ambulance arrived to take us both to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and a few minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the lovely people from the Red Cross’ Fire and Emergency Support Service arrived at the house and began to take care of our recently arrived and concerned parents and make the fire-fighters a richly deserved cup of tea before coming to meet us at the hospital. They found us there, blackened, shell-shocked with no idea what to do next.

They proceeded to do the most amazing job; talking things through with us, giving us advice on what to do next, making sure we were ok and providing us with spare, clean clothes that were kindly donated by Tesco. They said the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for which I am eternally grateful, and until that day I didn’t know the service even existed.

Now, just over  a year on I can happily say the damage has been repaired and life has returned to normality. It hasn’t all been plain sailing but thanks to the British Red Cross a traumatic event was made that little bit easier to cope with at a critical time.

Shortly after the event I decided I needed to give something back because I was so touched by what they did for me, so this summer I will be cycling a 1000 mile route between John O’ Groats and Lands End. I hope that this will raise a significant sum so the British Red Cross can continue to help people in situations like ours, along with all the other wide reaching and varied situations in which they do such fantastic work.

Megan’s JustGiving page

Sign up to run, ride, walk or swim for the British Red Cross

Podcast: Two sides of emergency response

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Red Cross emergency volunteers are specially trained to act fast and save lives in a crisis situation. However, it’s not all about blue lights and ambulances. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes an altogether different approach is called for. In this podcast, volunteers Matt Smith and Louise Elstow describe how they used their skills and training to deal with two very different situations.

[audio:http://www.blogs.redcross.org.uk.gridhosted.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/ER-lifesavers-final-edit.mp3|titles=ER lifesavers UK]

Transcript:

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Emergency response in the UK

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Graham Claxton has been volunteering for the British Red Cross for just over 6 years. Originally based in Hampshire, he’s now a volunteer team leader in the Emergency Response department London.

Imagine being bed-ridden with a chronic lung condition, reliant on oxygen and someone to provide you with your every need. This must be a challenging situation at the best of times but now imagine you have lost your electricity. Suddenly your source of heat, light, means of cooking, and even your means of moving is cut off. How could you provide help?

Whilst on an Emergency Response shift last week, I visited a man in his forties who had lost the power supply to his home. When I arrived, the relief on his face was clear. He was extremely cold, laid up in bed with thin blankets, without lighting, hot water and lacking the ability to cook or even make a hot drink. All it took was spending an hour with him, providing him with blankets, torches, a self-heating meal, and a medical check up and a cup of tea.

A quick chat about the annoyingly noisy builders outside the window and a laugh and a joke, he was feeling much better. Giving up an hour of my time meant the world to this man. Help can come in a variety of ways and in this case it was a cup of tea that proved to be the lifesaver.

Last month I visited a block of 67 flats whose power and water had been off for the whole day. Fortunately when I arrived the power had just been returned although the water was still off. I spent the evening chatting to the residents and seeing how the Red Cross could help. The greatest need was for water and after speaking to a nearby supermarket, they were willing to provide large bottles of water for residents. This came as great relief to one particular family who needed water to boil their two babies formula. Although no huge amount of aid was given that night, the simplest task of providing a few bottles of water really made a difference to the residents living there.

Read more about our UK emergency response work

The London marathon is just around the corner…

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Getting prepared to run the London Marathon requires a lot of work, time and dedication. All those cold, winter evenings out running while your friends are down the pub, sometimes it can feel like a real hard slog. In order to give myself a much needed break from training and to raise some money for the British Red Cross I decided to put on a fundraising event. I figured it would be another way for people to donate to the Red Cross and have a brilliant evening listening to some of the best live music around.

It seemed like a pretty daunting task to begin with, asking bands to give up their time for free and pulling in favours from pretty much everyone I know, but once I told them that all the money raised on the evening would be going to such a cause they were all a hundred percent on board.

Working with my good friend Stella we set about booking the bands, hiring the venue and publicising it with posters designed by 3DGlasses and an online social media campaign. We were so grateful because everyone donated their time, space and talent for free. I was so moved by their generosity.

Once the big night arrived everything fell nicely into place at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston – Charlotte and Lucy, dressed in 1940’s tea dresses, were manning the cake stall selling delicious cupcakes to the hungry gig goers. Gin Panic, Three Colours, Heck Tate, Nitkowski, Silent Front and Ex Libras were blowing the crowd away and everyone was donating what they could afford. It was a brilliant evening made even better knowing why we were doing this. I want to thank everyone who was involved in making the event such a huge success.

I’m still completely stoked by how it all went and the memories and music are helping me get through my final stages of training. I ran 20 miles last weekend and 18 miles this weekend, it’s probably easier to list the parts of my body that don’t hurt at the moment but these pains are nothing in the grand scheme of things. Knowing that the money I raise is going to help so many people keeps driving me on and I know it will drive me on to finish the 26.2 miles on the 25 April 2010. If you are in London on that day come down and cheer on the Red Cross running team as we make our way around the course. All the support will be much needed!

You can sponsor Kerrie on her JustGiving page.

Got your own place at the London Marathon? Sign up to run for the British Red Cross now.

Where does a barber go for a haircut?

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Have you ever wondered where a barber goes for a haircut, how a bus driver gets to his holiday destination or whether a politician debates which car to buy with their significant other before taking the plunge? What about what happens when a first aider needs first aid?

Picture the scene. Friday night. It’s been a long week at work. You’ve just left your work colleagues behind after attending a fascinating technology talk, and you start to head home. You take the tentative steps down Oxford Street tube station, you lose your footing and you fall down five or six stairs.

That was my Friday night. Ouch.

An innocent bystander came to my aid, offered her assistance and helped me get back on my feet again. I thanked her and sent her on her way, politely declining the offer of further help.

I tried to move off. I started walking. I was in agony. I realised I’d sprained my ankle. I hobbled down the escalator and got on the tube in the direction of Kings Cross. I got off and made slow progress, walking tentatively through the cavernous maze of new underground tunnels at Kings Cross station, to make my way to my overground train.

45 minutes later, I arrived at my home station and much to my horror, there were no cabs, so I had to hobble home. The usual ten minute walk took me 40 minutes, including an agonising climb up the final flight of stairs in my block of flats.

At this point my left ankle had swollen to twice the size of my right. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer, slung a tea towel over my shoulder and made my way to the sofa for some serious rest, ice, compression and elevation.

As the pain radiating from my ankle slightly subsided, what TV programme did I watch to try and take my mind off it? Nightwatch – a programme about the work of  emergency services. How ironic!

In a way, it’s a good job my first aid duty got cancelled on Sunday. I wouldn’t have been much use.

Every cloud has a silver lining though. As a first aider who received first aid this weekend, I am much better prepared for helping people cope with the symptoms of sprained ankles next time around!