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

Why Stephen Fry is my second favourite British man

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I know my accent doesn’t come across well in blog posts, but I’m originally from California. Growing up, if you’d asked me what British men were like, I’d have said this: incredibly intelligent, very droll, and exceedingly kind-hearted.

Flash forward to me watching QI for the first time and ‘meeting’ Stephen Fry, my second favourite British man.*

I wouldn’t be explaining all this to you if Stephen Fry hadn’t done something that sealed his place in my heart. More

Two interns for the price of one

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This has been my lucky day! I drove to Bristol this morning hoping to recruit an intern and ended up taking on two! James and Lily will be working hard over the next three months to co-ordinate the activities that the British Red Cross is planning in Bristol and Swindon to celebrate Refugee Week in June.

Both James and Lily are so enthusiastic about their voluntary internship and the opportunities it will give them. As for me, I’m really pleased that they have agreed to join us – I’m sure that they will have a brilliant time at the Red Cross and will do a fantastic job for us. They will certainly be a huge support to me and my team.

Last year in Refugee Week the Red Cross helped to organise an evening of celebration in Swindon – people from the refugee community entertained members of the public with a fashion show, dancing, singing and a very moving poem about the pain of leaving home. It was a fantastic evening and raised a lot of awareness. We are planning something similiar again this year as well as taking part in a number of events in Bristol.

I’ll keep you posted about how James and Lily get on and the activities we are planning. Meanwhile why don’t you find out how you can become an intern at the Red Cross – I promise you won’t regret it!

Photo: © Frantzesco Kangaris (BRC)

What’s scarier than jumping out a plane?

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Open parachute

I’m not known for my bravery – as my housemates would confirm, given the number of times I’ve asked them to get rid of (possibly deadly) spiders from my room for me.

So I don’t know why, when my colleague Chloe Day asked the other day if I wanted to jump out a plane, I said yes straightaway.

But since I did, I’m officially doing a tandem skydive for the Red Cross in June. So now I’ve got to get on with the bit that really does scare me – raising the sponsorship money. More