Syrian refugees Rania and Judy © Thomas Andre Syvertsen/Norwegian Red Cross

Syrian refugees Rania and Judy © Thomas Andre Syvertsen/Norwegian Red Cross

With so many problems in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We all want to help other people, but none of us can fix everything for everyone.

At the Red Cross we face this challenge – where to put our money and effort – every day.

But we have something that makes the decision much easier. Our seven Fundamental Principles.

These bold, brilliant ideas are 50 years old next month. But they still guide our work around the world, letting us do things no other organisation can.

So what are these brilliant ideas?

One principle is humanity – we work to end human suffering, wherever the affected person is.
They might be struggling after a stay in hospital in the UK, freezing in a makeshift tent on the Syrian border, or desperate for water on the roadside in Europe.

Another principle is impartiality. This means we help people no matter who they are, giving priority to those in most urgent need. So it doesn’t matter if people were born in the country we see them in, or arrived exhausted a few days earlier.

Volunteers at Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, from Albania to Zimbabwe, have all promised to follow these principles – helping those who need it most.

Helping people at home

Of course, here at the British Red Cross, we’re particularly well placed to support people in the UK.

That’s why we help far more people in Britain than anywhere else – hundreds of thousands last year alone. Every day our fantastic volunteers are teaching first aid, lending wheelchairs, supporting families after house fires and doing so much more.

But our principles mean that whenever we see people who need help, we don’t demand to see their passports.

We just give them help and dignity – something we would all expect after a brutal journey into the unknown.