Shape the future of the Geneva Conventions

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A Red Cross delegate interviews a man and several children in front of a bombed buildingThis August the Geneva Conventions – those international treaties that protect certain groups of people during wars – turn 60. The world has changed a lot since 1949, and so has the way wars are fought and reported on.

For example, journalists are much more likely to travel with the military these days, meaning those of us watching TV can get a more realistic view of conflict but also meaning journalists are in greater danger. How can we make sure that journalists are protected?

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What’s big, red and worthy all over?

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Victoria Pendleton holding her bikeI am passionate, some would say evangelical about cycling. So I have loved the recent sunny snap in London. Because it’s been so warm I’ve been cycling just about everywhere, not just the 7-mile commute I do to work and back.

I realised last week, after doing two combined trips, I’d notched up 20 miles in one day. Suffice to say I was quite tired… and very hungry afterwards.

I have been cycling seriously for ages and can’t recommend it highly enough. It brings such simple pleasure to cruise down a leafy avenue with the sun streaming down on your back and birdsong (between the roar of traffic) in your ears.

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One day. 26 teams. 1,000 Red Cross volunteers

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We’re finally home after an exhausting, yet amazing, time at the First Aid Convention in Europe (FACE) 2009 held this year in Oldenburg, Germany. Yesterday saw the highlight of the convention, a first aid competition held in the city centre of Oldenburg.

The day began (quite painfully) at 5am. Of course we were sensible and had an early night, some teams however chose to party into the early hours and suffered in the morning!

Then came the scenarios, I can’t list them all but to give you a flavour we had:

  • A van on fire after a gas explosion, we had to assist the German fire & rescue service. Personally I found this the most challenging; I had a casualty with major burns and not enough water to cool them. Our team leader then came up with the idea of using a fire hose to cool his injuries, genius!
  • A drunken fishing expedition gone wrong. This ended up with a man falling into the river.
  • An accident at a wedding procession involving a horse drawn carriage (With real living horses wandering around).

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Where’s my parade?

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When I tell people I work for the British Red Cross they assume I spend my time leaping from a helicopter onto a disaster area, pulling children from rubble while giving CPR to a nun.

Usually I do nothing to correct them because I’m a vain, vain man but in my more honest moments I tell them I actually manage health and social care services in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.

You should see their faces fall. They show the kind of disappointment usually reserved for my mum on parents’ evening. Or mother’s day. That’s the injustice this blog aims to tackle! More

Where's my parade?

By

When I tell people I work for the British Red Cross they assume I spend my time leaping from a helicopter onto a disaster area, pulling children from rubble while giving CPR to a nun.

Usually I do nothing to correct them because I’m a vain, vain man but in my more honest moments I tell them I actually manage health and social care services in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.

You should see their faces fall. They show the kind of disappointment usually reserved for my mum on parents’ evening. Or mother’s day. That’s the injustice this blog aims to tackle! More

Who really are refugees and asylum seekers?

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Recently on our Refugee Week, we wanted to talk about how people understand who they really are, without labelling them as refugees.

We started a campaign: Look beyond the label

female doctor immunising a childThis illustrates who we really are within ourselves. We are more than people think. We are real normal people with real feelings, understanding and recognised professions in our past.

I’m an orientation volunteer in the Red Cross; I have met lots of refugees and asylum seekers who have just arrived in the UK. Many of them had professions as doctors, engineers, teachers, and much more from their respective countries. And they still can continue being that if we only recognised them and looked beyond the label.

Image: © Christopher Black (IFRC)

The journey so far…

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First Aid Convention in Europe (FACE) 2009 is now in full swing and we’re having a great time! I’m writing this in a German Red Cross vehicle using a German keyboard, apologies for any spelling mistakes but it’s quite tricky to get used to.

Today has been the first aid convention; various speakers have been giving talks on the history of first aid and the Movement. There are also loads of stalls and I seem to have acquired a large number of freebies. Nothing beats free Red Cross pens or hats. Later today is the opening ceremony where all the countries parade around the market square in Oldenburg. I admit I’m nervous about this as I have to carry the UK flag which is quite daunting!

The weather is incredibly hot in Oldenburg at the moment and we are suffering slightly. Hopefully it will be slightly cooler for the competition day tomorrow. The competition itself is taking place in the city centre which should be a great opportunity to see Oldenburg, though obviously we’ll probably be more worried about the first aid!

I’ll try and post the results as soon as I know them tomorrow, wish us luck! 🙂