The mind is a wonderful thing…

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“The mind is a wonderful thing, it can set you free from social and material circumstance, it can empower you and it can define you, but it can also do the complete opposite”

A: Alzheimer’s.

What made me chose dementia as the topic for my first blog? Well until last week, I am ashamed to say, I had made huge (and mostly wrong) assumptions of the disease and the effect it has on both the person suffering and their families.

It all started with service user who arrived at our medical equipment service to collect a wheelchair for a relative (we’ll call her Lady X).

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Tweeting from Zimbabwe

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Ina Bluemel

Last week I told you a bit about our Twitter stream and how we’re using it to help the public understand what goes on behind the scenes at Red Cross projects.

This week I wanted to let you know about our latest ‘tweature’ (okay, I told my manager I wouldn’t use it, but I can’t help myself).

Ina Bluemel is a hygiene promotion officer working in Zimbabwe to make sure people know how to prevent the spread of cholera. She’s using Twitter to keep us up to date about the work she’s doing there. More

Monday Movement update #6

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Philippines kidnapping: Andreas Notter, the ICRC staff member who was kidnapped in the Philippines on 15 January, was freed on Saturday. His colleague Eugenio Vagni is still being held in captivity.

Sri Lanka conflict: The ICRC has evacuated more than 10,000 sick and injured people and their caregivers from the conflict zone to safer areas. Makeshift medical facilities in the conflict zone have been directly affected, with staff and patients killed and injured. More

Not a bum deal

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This might seem a cheeky question, but which of the following do you think gets up close and personal with an average of three bottoms every year? Is it:

A. A hot-wax hair removal specialist
B. A Red Cross wheelchair
C. Russell Brand

The answer, of course, is B. (For the curious among you, I’m really not sure how many hairy bums a year the hot-wax specialists encounter – and, frankly, I don’t want to know. Apparently, Russell Brand’s annual total is closer to 200, if you believe the newspapers.)

But what exactly does a Red Cross wheelchair do to get such an enviable track record on the derriere front? Well, the medical equipment service, available right through the UK, provides temporary loans of wheelchairs and other bits of kit designed to help people with injuries – or who’ve just had an operation – get through a difficult patch.

So, if Ben breaks his leg playing football but still wants to get out and about with his mates, a wheelchair will be a big help. (Providing his mates don’t wheel him to the middle of a field and leave him there, that is.) If young Sally twists her knee in gymnastics class, we have special kiddie-sized wheelchairs – not available in many NHS hospitals – on hand.

And, best of all, if Aunt Gladys from Dunoon wants to visit her grandkids in Brighton but has been feeling a bit frail, she can phone the Red Cross down south and order a wheelchair, which will be waiting for her when she arrives.

This little-known but wonderful service has been running successfully for donkey’s years now. Like crocodiles and rhinos, it’s one of those things that hasn’t really changed at all since its inception because it works so well.

Every year, thousands of volunteers put in the hours to make sure that, when times are tough, people have somewhere convenient – and mobile – to park their bum. And not one of them is obliged to spend any ‘quality’ time with Russell Brand.

'First aid' Cambodian style

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A year ago while volunteering in Cambodia, I found myself carefully removing a makeshift dressing from a young boy’s deeply cut foot, which was made from, of all things, tree leaves.

With no money for or access to proper bandages, many residents of Sihanoukville, where I was staying, apply wads of foliage to cuts in the hope they will heal and not get infected and turn septic.

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Why I became a first aider

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I know every first aider up and down the country has their own reasons for becoming a first aider. I thought now would be a good opportunity to tell you mine.

It was September 2003. For quite a while I’d realised that I didn’t want to be in a situation where somebody needed first aid and not be able to help. So I decided to take a first aid course at the earliest possible opportunity. More

Swishety swish: credit crunch chic

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A few weeks ago I was watching a breakfast news programme and was intrigued by a feature on a new fad in the U.S. It would seem that in these difficult economic times, the inhabitants of California’s affluent Orange County are feeling the squeeze. To get their hands on a few notes they have started to hold ‘gold parties’.

These are ostensibly a wealthy woman’s Tupperware party, but instead of swapping their money for a cupboard full of plastic boxes the women of the O.C. are arriving at their friends’ homes with their unwanted gold jewellery and leaving with pockets full of cash. More