Thirteen Newcastle girls and one good deed for Syria

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The words 'Something for Syria' are spelled out in lightbulbs on a stage with the Wylams Brewery name behind them in purple lights

Sadly, news of people forced to flee their homes in Syria is in the headlines once again.

When similar stories came out of Aleppo, a group of women in Newcastle decided to do something for Syria.

Sarah Melling, one of the women behind this response, tells their story.

What hit me most was the doctor’s despair.

He was working in Syria with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the siege of Aleppo. His letter on the BBC website told a harrowing story.

His team was evacuating the most vulnerable people from a former old people’s home in the besieged city.

The home had become a refugee camp in a sea of smashed concrete that used to be a thriving city.

Some of the people they found were disabled or mentally ill and some just had nowhere else to go.

As the Red Cross and their partners the Syrian Arab Red Crescent arrived to rescue them, they sat among the bodies of other patients who had already died. There was no heating, medicine or fuel.

Then some soldiers arrived with six children, one just seven months old. All had been orphaned in the past few days and left alone in the rubble with nothing to eat.

They carried the children and old people on stretchers through deserted and damaged streets, helping those they could, but passing the bodies of those for whom it was already too late.

“I feel so very sad, today,” the doctor wrote.

“Please, there have to be some limits to this war.”

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David’s story: why immigration detention needs to change

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“I left Kenya because I was fleeing not only persecution but unjust abuses. It’s still happening now. It’s even worse.”

Before he left Kenya, David worked for the Kenyan Election Board. “I was being forced to do illegal activities… to steal the election,” he said.

David was attacked and stabbed when he was still in Kenya. Later, his former manager was murdered.

He is also gay and spoke out for the rights of the LGBT+ community while in Kenya. But homosexuality is illegal there.

“People are assaulted in gay prides,” David said. “People have to wear masks.”

David is now claiming asylum in the UK. If the Home Office decides that his case is strong enough, he will be allowed to live in Britain as a refugee.

Like many people in his position, David has to report to the Home Office regularly.

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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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Learning lessons from the Grenfell Tower fire

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Mike at Grenfell Tower

Mike at Grenfell Tower ©BRC

Last year was one of the most challenging times in the history of the British Red Cross.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire and terror attacks in London and Manchester, we responded on an unprecedented scale.

This included raising £28m for the people affected, sorting through 200 tonnes of donations and managing a 24-hour support line. Overall, we helped almost 2,300 people affected by these terrible tragedies.

From this, the Red Cross and other organisations that respond to emergencies have learned important lessons about how we support people in times of crisis. One of these is that all organisations involved in a crisis must work closely together.

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“I am proud to work here”: a doctor at a Red Cross clinic shares his story

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For many people, the first they see of Dr Mesbha Ahmed is his rainbow umbrella.

Carrying the umbrella, he walks through the sprawling camp that’s now home to almost 700,000 people who fled their homes in Myanmar last August.

In the camp’s heat and dust, diseases can spread quickly.

To help, the Red Cross and our partners the Bangladesh Red Crescent run a surgical field hospital and eight clinics. Together, they treat thousands of patients.

Then one day a week, Dr Ahmed’s mobile clinic reaches people who can’t get to the other health centres.

So when families see the doctor’s bright umbrella, they know that his clinic is ready to help.

Here, Dr Ahmed explains how the mobile clinic helps save lives.

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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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