Volunteering

World Humanitarian Day: meet the people we all rely on

Today is World Humanitarian Day. Many aid workers are risking their lives to help people in dangerous places from Syria and Yemen to South Sudan and Afghanistan. Others are volunteering their time and skills to help others in their communities. Join us on a trip around the world to meet the people who are always ready to help in a crisis.

Italy
Italian Red Cross nurse Daniela and her team rescue a group of people stranded in a sinking boat in the Mediterranean.

Italian Red Cross nurse Daniela and her team rescue a group of people stranded in a sinking boat in the Mediterranean. The work on board the rescue boat is relentless as hundreds of people are rescued from the water every day. Aid workers like Daniela ensure people feel safe and protected. (Photo: Jason Florio / MOAS)

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A knit and natter: “I’m enjoying making new memories”

Tydfil sat with Janet who was the Red Cross volunteer who helped her to regain her independence

Tydfil Wood was more used to caring for others than being the one cared for. As a former district nurse in Rhondda, Wales, she had looked after many people in her community over the years – even earning herself the nickname Sister Wood.

But after the death of her husband, life became a lot lonelier for the retiree. Tydfil found herself spending a lot more time alone at home.

“I would receive visits from the family but getting out independently was a problem,” Tydfil said.

She could no longer drive because of her arthritis and eventually lost her confidence to go out altogether.

Her daughter Gaynor was concerned. But when she came across a British Red Cross project called Positive Steps, she thought it might be just what her mum needed.

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Volunteers on the front lines

Two Red Cross volunteers hold and comfort an injured child

What happens when the day you have spent years preparing for suddenly comes without warning?

In April, Red Cross volunteer Jorge Chele Santana was spending a peaceful afternoon with his father, wife and son.

Suddenly the ground shook violently and the family rushed outside. They didn’t realise at first that their home town of Manta, Ecuador, was near the epicentre of a major earthquake.

The city was hit hard and help was needed immediately.

“I remember calming down my 17-year-old son, who also happens to be a Red Cross volunteer,” Jorge said.

“I looked him in the eye and said ‘son, it’s time to show what we’ve prepared for, what we’ve been trained to do and remember why we are part of the Red Cross.’

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Meet Michael: Norwich City fan and super first aider

British Red Cross first aider Michael Segon with Norwich City FC player Martin Olsson

Volunteers are the backbone of the British Red Cross. They never cease to amaze us with their dedication. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, you come across someone like Michael Segon.

Michael is one of our first aid volunteers. He recently celebrated a whopping 60 years of volunteering with the Red Cross.

Over the years he has provided first aid at a wide range of events in the Norwich area.

But his bread and butter has been the matches at Norwich City Football Club. He’s been on duty at more than 1,700 games.

Being a massive Norwich City fan, Michael has loved being able to combine his love for first aid with football.

And despite recently suffering a heart attack, Michael is determined to continue volunteering.

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“I will keep trying and I will break free”: One refugee artist’s long journey back to her easel

drawing of weeping eye

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” 

This famous line of Picasso’s resonates with Mays Al Ameer more than most.

Her passion for drawing, indeed her whole childhood, was cut short when her family were taken hostage in Iraq.

Now settled in Poole, she is part of a Red Cross art group designed to encourage community ties and a sense of belonging.

We meet her at an exhibition of her work at the Poole Lighthouse to hear about what brought her to the south coast, as well as her hopes for the future. More

Older couple ‘tickled pink’ by Facebook

Tom and Jean Fussell learning to use their tablet with Red Cross volunteer Jo

In this day and age you can stay connected to your nearest and dearest with the touch of button. You can Skype your cousin in Canada and WhatsApp a picture of Meera the cat to your sister. You can even share your holiday snaps with friends on Instagram.

But only if you know how.

Tom and Jean Fussell did not. The couple from Radstock, both in their eighties, felt cut off from their loved ones dotted across the globe.

They had bought a tablet in the hope they could stay in touch. But they hadn’t learnt how to use it.

“It’s all new to us. We were brought up in a different era,” Jean said.

“When we went to school we had chalk and slate and a pen you had to dip in ink.”

But with a little help from a British Red Cross volunteer, that was about to change.

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In the nick of time: ‘I feared giving birth in the car’

Red Cross volunteers Nigel and Stuart with Claire and baby Tori

As thousands of runners’ feet pounded the roads in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon on 10 April, an expectant mum was desperately trying to find a way through the resulting traffic.

Claire Burke had gone into labour.

She had been driving to her mum’s for breakfast with her eight-year-old daughter Mia when she’d started to feel the contractions.

“At first I thought they were Braxton Hicks (false labour),” Claire said.

But as she tried to navigate through the road closures and diversions, the contractions grew stronger and stronger. Before long they were coming every minute.

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Watch: How a Red Cross volunteer helped save lives in Nepal

Sameer is one of over 8,000 Red Cross volunteers in Nepal. Here, he describes how the Red Cross helped people prepare for, cope with and recover from the 2015 earthquakes.