Pyjama party

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Two women and a baby

It’s 3am, pouring with rain and only two degrees, so why is there a family in the middle of the road wearing only their pyjamas?

This is a scene that our fire and emergency support service volunteers see all the time. In our spare time we volunteer to be on call helping the fire service look after people who have been in a fire or flood. We’re also working with south Wales police on a new idea to help victims of crime, but more about that in a future blog.

So what do we do? Some nights all we do is make people a cup of tea and sit with them while they tell us what’s happened. Other nights you might see us trying to rehouse a pet snake, reclothe a whole family or find emergency accommodation for somebody whose house has been burnt to the ground.

I guess you might be wondering why we do it. After all, getting up in the wee hours of the morning can be a real pain, especially in the middle of winter. And it’s even worse if you have to go straight to work once you’ve finished your volunteering. More

First aid and whisky

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First-aid-and-whisky-BLOGI almost died when I was 40 seconds old.

Seriously. That’s not just some snappy opening line carefully crafted to grab your attention; I genuinely did the whole ‘not-breathing-starting-to-turn-blue’ scenario before the umbilical cord had even been cut.

And guess what? A little basic first aid knowledge saved my life.

Here’s how it happened: I was born in our front room with only my Dad and a mid-wife present – I think my Mum might have been there too – and, once I’d popped out and they smacked my bum, I didn’t oblige with the usual coughing and breathing routine.

Getting a bit panicky, the mid-wife lifted young infant Cox (all six pounds, six ounces) by the feet and started shaking me like a rag-doll, but I only started to turn blue. More

Monday Movement update

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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 child drinks from a tap

World Water Day photos: More than a billion people lack a basic water supply and diarrhoeal diseases like cholera are on the rise. For World Water Day (22 March), the International Federation has created a photo gallery showing how it’s working with communities to improve their access to water.

Democratic Republic of Congo photo gallery: More than 1.2 million people have fled violence in North Kivu province since 2007. The ICRC has created a photo gallery on their website showing their work there. You can also read an interview with Carl de Keyzer, the Magnum Photos photographer who took the pictures.

Human trafficking in Eastern Europe: The Red Cross and other international organisations are warning the economic recession could lead to a rise in human trafficking.

Madagascar demonstrations: Political demonstrations in Madagascar have sparked violence for the past month and Malagasy Red Cross first aid volunteers have been out helping those caught up. They’re the only organisation providing first aid and getting people to hospital, making them local heroes.

*The Movement is made of 186 National Societies (including the British Red Cross), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation.

Image © Jakob Dall/Danish Red Cross

A dog called Lucky

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You probably already know the joke I’m thinking of: ‘My dog’s blind, asthmatic and only has three legs.’ ‘What’s its name?’ ‘Lucky.’

Well, in many respects, that tale of canine misadventure reminds me of my friend Liz’s predicament. Over the past five years, she’s had breast cancer (twice), countless chemotherapy sessions, ongoing heart trouble and a badly arthritic right hip that has rendered her virtually immobile.

But there’s something else that Liz – now aged 61 and with only one sister living hundreds of miles away in Sheffield – has had. And that’s a core group of good friends and kind neighbours who think the world of her. More

Becoming a filmmaker in Sierra Leone

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Group of kids wavingExciting day today. Last month I was in Sierra Leone and today, the two short films I produced on Red Cross programmes out there go live on the web. So, I know it’s a shameless plug but I hope you check them out.

Because I’m telling you, I’ve never worked so hard in my life – being a first time producer I had no idea what I was letting myself in for – it’s a really labour intensive job. But I loved every minute.

Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war ended in 2002 and since then the Red Cross has been helping people recover and build peace in communities that were torn apart by the conflict. I guess all civil wars are brutal and this one certainly didn’t buck the trend. I watched Sorius Samura’s documentary Cry Freetown before I went – it’s truly shocking. More

Preparing for the year ahead

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Ambulance with blue lights lit

I signed up for quite a few ambulance duties at my local Red Cross centre meeting last night. All of them were grass track duties, held at St Neots Autograss Club in Wyboston.

This was my first grass track event. Grass track racing is held up and down the country and involves varying amount of cars, either in the same class or an open-class event, hurtling around a mud (presumably once grass) track. I think it was in September – near the end of the season. I was part of a team of two/three ambulance crews, several first aiders and paramedic support. More