Category: UK

Post relating to the British Red Cross in the United Kingdom

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!

What would you do if we gave you £100?

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If the British Red Cross gave you £100 one day you’d probably be a bit surprised as you’d know we wouldn’t give away our valuable cash willy nilly. But there you are, just say, with a crisp one hundred smackers in your hand from us, what do you do with it? Get the rounds in at your local pub? Get tickets to the footy? Or, use it to generate more much-needed cash for us?

Young man painting at art eventIf it’s the latter, you might be tempted to take it straight to the bookies for a flutter to do this, but we’d have to insist you took that £100 and turned it into £300 or more for the British Red Cross through a brilliant fundraising project or event. This is not just a hypothetical scenario, but the basis of Hundred 2 Hundreds – a brand new initiative we have launched, open to  young people across the southeast.  And I think it’s a winner.

Rather than simply asking people to donate to the Red Cross, Hundred 2 Hundreds is a way of encouraging groups of people aged 15 to 25, to use their initiative to work together and come up with their own inspiring fundraising projects and events. With a bit of help from us – £100 plus advice and support from local fundraisers and youth coordinators – each group aims to at least treble the amount given.  A judging panel will make the £100 award to nine teams.

Group of young people at sponsored wheelchair push

The initiative is based on a pilot which resulted in three innovative projects: Create for Cross (in Cambridgeshire), Centenary Wheelchair Push (in Hampshire) and Red Rave in (Kent).

So, feeling inspired? If you’re aged 15 to 25 and live in the southeast and reckon you can treble your, or rather our money, to support our vital work, email Angela Morgan or Wendy Solesbury for an application form. The closing date for entries is 8 September.

Find out more

Reach dizzy heights for Red Cross Appeal Week

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The idea of holding a fundraising event is daunting to some. It evokes images of large-scale dos, fraught with lots of planning, organising… and headaches. But holding one can be a simple, stress-free affair. Take the event my colleague Mark Cox and I have come up with to raise funds for Red Cross Appeal Week on May 2 – 8.

Our Big Red Climb is inspired by Vertical Rush – a fundraising idea popular with City workers. It involves Mark and I climbing up as many flights of stairs of our office as possible over an hour one day during the Appeal Week. With seven gasp-inducing flights in our building, going up them even once is impressive in my book.

As to the planning, the Big Red Climb involves just two participants (Mark and me) and takes place over our lunch hour. So all it took to arrange was a 5-minute meeting while at our desks over a biscuit and a spot of tea.

Organising the Big Red Climb will simply involve us taking a sponsorship form round our office – Red Cross staff are a generous bunch – and putting a few posters up to publicise it.

The biggest challenge apart from those pesky stairs will be pre-event preparation on the day; we will have to remember to bring our sports kit in, and eat an energy-packed breakfast.

What money-spinning steps will you take for Red Cross Appeal Week? If you’re feeling lazy, you could simply donate, or spread the word about Red Cross Appeal Week through your social media networks. Otherwise why not sign up for a local event. You can get inspired with these fundraising ideas and also read our top tips for organising an event.

Lauren's crafty ways turn the drab to fab

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One welcome silver lining to the recession has been the explosion of the mend and make do movement. Lots of us simply can’t afford to buy things as often as we did, and I love the way our collective frugality forces us to mend, reuse and recycle more…and get creative along the way.

Take my colleague Katrina who wowed us the other day by turning up to work in a dazzling shirtdress she’d made herself.  It took her a week to make it in her spare time after work and at weekends.

Some of our volunteers have taken this craze to charitable heights by using it to do some crafty fundraising; stitch-happy Lauren Shields is just one who caught our eye recently.

Lauren works at one of our charity shops in Lincolnshire and has been customising some of the clothes that don’t sell there. She embellishes them with items from the shop’s haberdashery section. Read the full story on our website.

It’s amazing what a bit of ribbon here and a decorative button there can do to make something drab fab. Here are just a few of her recent transformations:

customised hand bag

customised top

customised cardigan

If the idea of getting busy with a needle and thread to transform your old clobber is too daunting, remember you can simply donate them to your local Red Cross shop.