The difference we make

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Here’s a short quiz for you.

A volunteer supports an elderly woman with a cane as they walk1. In 2008, how many people in the UK did Red Cross volunteers help through short-term health crises (like coping after a hospital stay or getting to and from doctor appointments when they have limited mobility)?

a. almost 70,000
b. just over 150,000
c. nearly 290,000

2. Approximately how many refugees in the UK did we give assistance to last year?

a. 5,000
b. 20,000
c. 40,000 More

Bragging for a cause

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Most of the time I’m far too English to brag but it’s for a good cause so please indulge me – you see I want to show you a picture of one of the places I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Red Cross.

Maldives island

Yep, it’s the Maldives.

Although my day job at the Red Cross is international writer, I’m also a trained member of our logistics emergency response unit (ERU). This means I’m part of a roster and every year I spend one month being on-call 24/7. If a major disaster happens, such as the Caribbean hurricanes last year, then the four-member team is ready to be deployed immediately to help deliver and distribute relief items.

Obviously the chances of being deployed every year are pretty slim so it’s important we keep up our skills, which is done each year by a week-long training session involving a simulated emergency – I’d tell you more about this but my colleague Clare has just written a particularly amusing blog about the whole thing.

Anyway, back to my bragging. More

Monday Movement update #10

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

A man lies on a bed in a Zimbabwean clinicSri Lanka conflict: Displaced people in Sri Lanka not only need food, water and medical care. Thousands need to know whether relatives are alive and well. Jacques de Maio, ICRC head of operations for South Asia, explains how the organisation is helping.

Cholera in Zimbabwe: The Federation believes it’s likely Zimbabwe will see its hundred thousandth case of cholera sometime this week. More

Volunteer – feel less rubbish!

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Leo the wonder volunteerGiven that it’s Volunteers’ Week – and make sure you check out our fabulous new volunteer video – I feel compelled to mention that I volunteered recently. Oh yes. For two whole hours, I stood outside a London train station shaking a bucket forlornly (or fundraising, as it’s also known) while random commuters threw coins in my general direction. It was exhausting.

Thankfully, there are those in the world who have a little more zip and voluntary zeal than myself. Take Finnish wonder-boy Leo Kaipianen, for example, who has just won a Platinum Youth Achievement Award (think the voluntary equivalent of an Olympic gold, Oscar, Nobel Prize etc) for his breath-taking efforts.

Despite English being only his third language, Leo spent a full year trawling all across the North West of our fair country teaching first aid to lots of other younglings – including those with disabilities – at schools and social centres.

On reflection, I really don’t like Leo. He’s one of those annoying over-achievers whose very existence tends to make many of us – who may lead slightly more sedentary lives – feel useless and rubbish. But, if you want to start feeling a bit better, now would be an ideal time to get involved.

Fintastic logistics training

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Another week, another country, another training course. This time I was in Finland, in a place called Tampere, which is Finland’s second biggest city. The Finns are quite keen on ranking things by size I discovered. It was here on the banks of the Tammerkoski Rapids in south-western Finland where the Nokia company was first set up. This was before it relocated to the town of Nokia and took on the name. Lucky really as “Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä connecting people” isn’t quite so snappy a slogan!

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How will you celebrate Refugee Week?

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Liz & Teil with Emmanual Jal, refugee week 2008

What will you do to celebrate Refugee Week this June?
Last year I met Sudanese rap singer Emmanuel Jal at the Celebrating Sanctuary Fun Day in Bristol. I’ve never listened to rap before but I was very impressed with his music as he draws on his experience of being a child soldier. I learned something that day through listening to him. What a star.
If you read my first blog (Two interns for the price of one) you will know that we have James and Lilly working with us this year to co-ordinate our refugee week activities in Bristol, Swindon and Gloucester – they are doing a fantastic job and we have a very busy and exciting week planned.

The perfect eco-friendly bag

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If you’re anything like me, you’ll have plastic carrier bags coming out of your ears. Or, at least, stuffed into all your cupboards and kitchen drawers.

I occasionally remember to take a bag or two with me to the shops to use again, but not very often. So I’m endlessly asking for new ones and telling myself “next time…”.

Eco-friendly bags have been around for a while now, but they’re often a bit slogan-y (or brown) for my taste, so I’ve resisted – until now.

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