Category: UK

Post relating to the British Red Cross in the United Kingdom

Volunteer to cure the back to work blues


Big Red Cross Bus in Bishop AucklandApologies for my silence, dear reader, I have been away on holiday and took a temporary blogging breather; not even I love the Red Cross enough to blog from a sunlounger.

Many people feel pretty gloomy coming back to work after a spell away but not me (apart from having to cycle home in torrential rain yesterday). I call it the ‘Red Cross effect’, where exposure to good works induces a feeling of perpetual wellbeing.  

I had only been back in the office five minutes on Tuesday when I heard about all the great stuff  I’d missed while I was away…

Thousands of parents had gone to the Baby Show in Birmingham on 21-23 May, with many getting a dose of our life-saving  children and baby first aid courses via demos from staff and volunteers.

I heard that Tesco has now raised more than £582,000 for the British Red Cross and DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

And our first aid volunteers had kept revellers safe at the One Big Weekend event in Bangor on 22-23 May as well as runners at the Edinburgh marathon on 23 May.

I was also delighted to see our Volunteer’s Week Big Red Cross Bus had started its journey around the country.

How’s that for a busy week at work (for everyone else). It gave me a little glow to hear about it all. Of course, you don’t need to actually work here to enjoy the Red Cross effect and banish your post summer holiday back-to-work blues.

Why not become a volunteer?  Pay a visit to the British Red Cross bus (find out where it’s visiting) before 12 June, to discover the dozens of varied and flexible volunteering roles we offer. You never know, you might snap up a bargain designer bikini from the onboard shop for that next holiday while you’re there.

All aboard the Big Red Cross Bus!


What do you get when you cross a charity shop with a bus? (No, not a terrible accident scene with broken glass, well-thumbed books and woolly jumpers strewn all over the pavement.)

You get the Big Red Cross Bus – the world’s first mobile charity shop and volunteer information centre – which could be winging its way to you soon.

Apparently, the great British credit-crunched public is well and truly skint, and flocking to Red Cross shops in such great numbers that, frankly, we need more shop volunteers to cope with the human deluge.

But the dilemma was how to reach those hundreds of potential volunteers out there all across the country? The boffins at Red Cross HQ had a brainstorm. It went something like this: ‘How do we reach those hundreds of potential volunteers out there all across the country?’ ‘We could hire a bus and put a shop in it.’ ‘Alright then.’

(Our boffins work fast at the Red Cross.)

And thus was born the Big Red Cross Bus. It’ll be touring the country from 31 May to 12 June, taking in 12 locations along the way. Pop along for a browse and bargain-hunt – and please do bring along any goods you’d like to donate.

You can also try your hand at being a shop volunteer and, if you like it, sign up to join the world’s biggest and cuddliest humanitarian movement. Come on, hop on board. It’ll be the ride of your life!

Podcast: Cumbrian floods – six months on


Woman in front of map of flood-affected Cockermouth, CumbriaThe Cumbrian floods last November had a devastating effect on hundreds of lives. Six months on, three families recall their darkest hours and discuss how the Red Cross has been helping them ever since. Mother-of-two Lynne Swain, pensioners Mary and Harold Todhunter and local shop owner Catherine Bell share their stories.



Sponsored bean bath brings in the cash


When was the last time you spent an entire week in rollerskates, or bathed in baked beans, or walked 35 miles to your local pub? These are just a few of the dozens of imaginative sponsored events staff, volunteers and members of the public took on during Red Cross Appeal Week last week in the name of fundraising for our wonderful charity.

Staff member Victoria Wood-Matthews, from Bristol, spent an entire week in rollerskates, including a visit to her local polling station on the day of the general election. She even attempted to cycle in her skates but as you’d imagine, got in a bit of a tangle.

Debra Probert (pictured), manager of our Pobtypool shop in South Wales spent five hours in a tub of baked beans in the shop window, raising just short of £500.

Two intrepid members of staff from the Ipswich office walked a 35-mile detour to their local pub, raising over £500 so far.

Dress Code Red days took place nationwide. Check out photos from the events on Flickr.

Red Cross shops across Scotland were taken over for the day in Apprentice-style challenges. A team of novice fundraisers tried to raise as much money as possible by organising various events, raffles and activities.

And yours truly, with my colleague Mark Cox doubled our target and both climbed 200 flights of stairs of our London office in the Big Red Climb, raising a total of £881 so far.

Red Cross Appeal Week may be over for this year, but you can organise your own event or sign up to one of our sponsored events all year round for the Red Cross.

Podcast: Memories of occupation in the Channel Islands


When Germany occupied the Channel Islands during the Second World War, islanders found their lines of communication almost completely severed from relatives in the UK. For a time, they were entirely cut off from the food supplies they relied on.

Fortunately, the Red Cross ship SS Vega sailed to the rescue – bringing much-needed relief and comfort supplies – and Red Cross messages brought news from family. Listen as islanders remember those troubling times.


And here are some photos from our archives.

Read about how the Red Cross helped the occupied Channel Islands.


Little steps make a big fundraising difference


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!


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)


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


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)


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


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!