Category: Health

Birthday presents for the NHS at 70

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An elderly woman and a young woman kiss each other on the cheek and exchange flowers and a wrapped present

We wish the NHS a very happy birthday . Photo © Eva Katalin Kondoros

Mike Adamson is chief executive of the British Red Cross

As the NHS turns 70, over the next month a lot of people will be talking about its health, now and for the future.

There will be calls for sweeping changes.

Some will gaze into a future of technology and innovation. Others will say we should get back to basics.

But really, it’s much more complicated than that.

Of course it is. Even when we celebrated the birth of the NHS in 1948, the Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan at the time sounded a note of caution.

He warned that there would be “no miraculous removal of our more serious shortages of nurses and others and of modern re-planned buildings and equipment…”

These words of seven decades past have a very modern ring.

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Four things to know about care

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A Red Cross volunteer provides social care by helping an older woman walk down a path

At the British Red Cross, we want everyone to get the support they need to live as independently as possible.

But a new report by the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation found that this odoes not always happen.

Instead, a growing number of people who have recently left hospital are being admitted again – sometimes just a few days later.

Our In and out of hosptial report confirms this, showing that a lack of social care support leads to people having to go into hospital again and again. Sadly, opportunities to change this are often missed.

Every year the Red Cross supports thousands of people coming home from hospital.

Here are four key things we know about care based on the stories we have heard from the people who use our services.

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“It’s been such an amazing journey” – Hollie Booth and RISE in Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals

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Thirteen-year-old Hollie Booth from Sheffield is just like any other teenage girl who loves Ariana Grande and lives to dance.

Caught up in the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May last year, Hollie’s aunt Kelly Brewster was tragically killed, while Hollie herself was left seriously injured.

But she was determined to do all she could to recover and return to her passion of dancing.

Now she and her dance troupe, RISE Unbroken, are preparing to perform live on national TV – on one of the biggest talent shows in the country.

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Manchester attack survivor Hollie through to next stage of Britain’s Got Talent – thanks to Red Cross

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“It’s been a very difficult journey for us as a family over the last year.”

Last May, Claire Booth, 35, her 13-year-old daughter Hollie and Claire’s sister Kelly Brewster went to see Ariana Grande in concert at the Manchester Arena.

Tragically, it became the scene of one of the UK’s worst terror attacks, claiming the lives of 22 people – including Kelly.

“My own injuries were quite minor, and I was fine after a few months,” Claire said.

“But Hollie was left severely injured as a result of the attack… and my sister sadly lost her life.”

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You’re not alone in feeling alone

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John Ball knows what it’s like to feel lonely.

His second wife, Marie, died last year. John spent Christmas without his family or friends.

John, aged 71 from Plympton in Devon, knew that Christmas without her would be a difficult and emotional milestone.

“I knew what was coming because I’d already been through it once,” John said. His first wife, Janet, had died when she was just 44 years old.

“I knew how lonely I would feel without Marie. I didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to invite me to Christmas dinner, so I took myself away on a coach holiday to Nottingham.

“Yet simple things like watching people get off the coach in couples as I followed along by myself really brought it home how lonely I was.” More

“How a wrong number changed my life”: a disabled volunteer’s story

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Mark Belton, a disabled volunteer, wears a British Red Cross t-shirt and smiles

Mark Belton, Red Cross volunteer © British Red Cross

“I think back on how I felt six or seven years ago and so much has changed,” Mark Belton said.

Mark first noticed that his sight was getting worse in his teens. His mum, nan and sister all had an inherited eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.

“By the age of 18 or 19 I knew I had it too.

“My eyesight was deteriorating,” Mark said.

“It was a real blow, it was half expected but it sort of knocks you back. I had just got my new job then as an upholsterer.”

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Disabled and lonely? The Red Cross can help

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Sue Seers received support from the British Red Cross

Isabella is a life-line to Sue Seers. She’s not her carer, support worker, or even a family member – but a wheelchair.

For two years Sue was unable to leave her house due to deteriorating health. But then the British Red Cross helped her get a wheelchair and start a journey away from loneliness and social isolation.

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Connecting communities: meet two women on a mission

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Nazia providing support to an older woman

Back in December 2016, the British Red Cross in partnership with the Co-op, revealed epidemic levels of loneliness and social isolation in the UK.

Now we’ve started to roll out connecting communities: the name of our brand new services designed to help tackle these issues head on.

At the heart of these are an inspirational team of individuals, people like Vicky Day and Nazia Rehman.

Both these women know what it is like to be lonely and are on a mission to ensure others in a similar position get the help they need and deserve.

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