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

It’s good to talk

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How many of you know a guy who actually likes to chat on the phone for ages? I’m guessing not many of you. That’s how I knew that the new FESS telephone support service we started was worth its weight in gold.

Traditionally our FESS team provided a crisis intervention service, which sounds a lot posher than it actually is. The fire service or police would activate us, we’d make our way to the incident, do the best we could and then leave. That was the end of our job.

Following a call out at the end of last year we’ve now extended the service we offer to include help over the phone. What this means is that we can offer comfort and advice to people at any time of day or night even if we don’t have a crew working at the time.

So how did it all start?

At about half past six on a winter’s night I took a call from fire control to ask if there was anything we could do to help a family who’d had a fire that day. The house was uninhabitable and though the family had relatives they could stay with they were very shaken up.

I wasn’t sure what help I could offer from the other end of a phone line but thought it was worth a try. It turns out there’s a lot you can do. The fire had been started by the two year old baby who had accidentally turned the hob on, setting fire to the shopping that had been left on top of it. More

It's good to talk

By

How many of you know a guy who actually likes to chat on the phone for ages? I’m guessing not many of you. That’s how I knew that the new FESS telephone support service we started was worth its weight in gold.

Traditionally our FESS team provided a crisis intervention service, which sounds a lot posher than it actually is. The fire service or police would activate us, we’d make our way to the incident, do the best we could and then leave. That was the end of our job.

Following a call out at the end of last year we’ve now extended the service we offer to include help over the phone. What this means is that we can offer comfort and advice to people at any time of day or night even if we don’t have a crew working at the time.

So how did it all start?

At about half past six on a winter’s night I took a call from fire control to ask if there was anything we could do to help a family who’d had a fire that day. The house was uninhabitable and though the family had relatives they could stay with they were very shaken up.

I wasn’t sure what help I could offer from the other end of a phone line but thought it was worth a try. It turns out there’s a lot you can do. The fire had been started by the two year old baby who had accidentally turned the hob on, setting fire to the shopping that had been left on top of it. More

Monday Movement update #5

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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: ICRC staff member Mary Jean Lacaba was released on 2 April after 78 days in captivity. Her colleagues Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter are still being held.

Italian earthquake: Italian Red Cross rescue teams were on the scene within an hour of this morning’s devastating earthquake in L’Aquila. They’ve set up a field hospital and mobile kitchens and are helping evacuate the injured and perform first aid.

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Can G20 bring new dawn in Zimbabwe?

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Zimbabwe was the first African country I visited – it was 1995, I was 21 years old and it fulfilled all my dreams of what I imagined Africa to be. It was pure adventure, from the hustle and heat of the capital Harare, to travelling across the country on red, dusty roads with people carrying all manner of things on their heads and finally the rushing waters of the Zambezi. I fell in love with the enormity of the landscape and its smokey dusk after brilliant sunsets – so different from what I’d known growing up in London.

Girls carrying buckets of water on their heads

Then there was the amazing generosity of the people. I was travelling with a friend and it seemed that everyone we met offered us an unexpected kindness, buying us meals, putting us up in their homes, going out of their way to show us around their country, of which they were so proud.

And so I’ve found it heartbreaking to watch this wonderful country trapped in a social and economic downward spiral. More

Mumbai: the great escape

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I hear that my ex-husband, Alex, has got engaged. I’m really happy for him, not least because the last time I saw him was on TV, looking shaken. He had just had a very lucky escape from armed gunmen, and was talking about his experiences to a news channel.

It was pretty surreal seeing him on screen as, at the time – November – I was in a hotel room in Dubai, on holiday. It turns out that he had got caught up in the terror attacks in Mumbai many miles away. I watched the screen, transfixed. He told a reporter how gunmen at the Oberoi hotel, where he had been dining, had taken him and other people captive and frogmarched them up the stairs towards the roof.

More

You couldn’t pay me…

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A successful community fundraising formula for many a year has been the sponsored event. Millions of pounds are raised annually through this ritual, in a veritable smorgasbord of guises.

Sponsored events can be loads of fun but I can’t help feeling that some are more appealing than others. Here are four fundraising ideas I would not be first in line for: More