Volunteer: go to cool events

Sam-ClewesSince becoming a first aid volunteer, 17-year-old Sam Clewes has hobnobbed with royalty at Buckingham Palace and rocked out at the Wireless Festival. Here’s his story:

Become a first aider with the British Red Cross, they said. You’ll get to see interesting things. They weren’t lying.

I live in rural West Midlands, so when the Red Cross asked if I’d like to spend a summer weekend at both the Queen’s Coronation Festival and the Wireless Festival, you can probably guess what my answer was.


Our principles: universality

Welcome to the seventh in our series of blogs looking at the Red Cross’ guiding principles. Today, we look at universality.

Haiti-ER-volunteer-with-chiThe International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is worldwide.

When a big disaster occurs, a call for support goes out from our headquarters in Geneva to 188 National Societies across the world. Following the Haiti earthquake, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams from all over the globe immediately took action.

They sent emergency teams, set up hospitals, despatched hygiene and sanitation specialists, raised millions of pounds, and ensured the survivors had enough food to eat and tents to sleep in.


Our principles: unity

Welcome to the sixth in our series of blogs looking at the Red Cross’ guiding principles. Today, we look at unity.

Lebanon-ER-volunteersThere can only be one Red Cross or Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

Berna Beyrouthy (27) is a paramedic with the Lebanese Red Cross. Since conflict broke out in neighbouring Syria two years ago, life has grown increasingly difficult.

She said: “The Syrian crisis is testing our courage and even our ability to uphold the fundamental principles, perhaps like no other time in our history.


Our principles: voluntary service

Welcome to the fifth in our series of blogs looking at the Red Cross’ guiding principles. Today, we look at voluntary service.

Amy-WintonWe are a voluntary relief movement, not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

Amy Winton always wanted to help people since she was ‘really little’ – and now she’s putting her childhood ambition into practice as a Red Cross volunteer.

Amy, who does about two first aid duties a month, explains: “I really enjoy volunteering because it gives me an opportunity to support people face-to-face.”


Food parcels: wartime memories and a celebration

Prisoners of war open Red Cross parcelsThis week we are celebrating a big number: 25 million. That’s how many food and provision parcels we have given to people in need since the First World War.

Eighty-year-old David Isherwood has strong childhood memories of receiving food parcels in German-occupied Jersey during the Second World War.

He says: “I can still remember being hungry. During the occupation we used to go to school on a slice of swede, but we survived.”

After the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944, many supplies to the Channel Islands from France were cut off. By late 1944, the average person in Jersey was consuming only 1,100 calories per day, whilst in the UK the average person was consuming 3,500 calories.


Our principles: impartiality

Welcome to the second in our series of blogs looking at the Red Cross’ guiding principles. Today, we look at impartiality.
Displaced_woman_on_Mount_LeWe make no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions – and endeavour to relieve the suffering of individuals, giving priority to those most urgently in need.

Each country brings its own challenges. In Lebanon, for example, a country divided along religious or ‘confessional’ lines, the Lebanese Red Cross has worked painstakingly over many years to build a reputation for providing impartial help.


Why volunteering makes you irresistible

Robin-kiss-blogA new study shows that altruistic behaviour – such as volunteering – can be like catnip to potential romantic partners.

Ladies and gentlemen: we have been misinformed.

Popular culture – whether music, films or books – constantly drums the line that all girls love a bad boy, while men can’t help drooling over vampy women.

Think of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, that sulky vampire chap from Twilight or the perma-undressed Rhianna.


The televisions that talk back to you

Most of us talk at the telly sometimes – but thanks to a new Red Cross service, now it sometimes talks back.

Our pioneering new ‘Facelook’ service means older people can keep in touch with volunteers and family members from the comfort of their own front room. The system, similar to the internet Skype model, beams video calls straight through to residents’ television sets.

Simple to use, it enables older people living alone to speak to (and clearly see) their Red Cross support at home volunteers, and family and friends from across the world. It’s also handy for doctors, who can use the system for remote check-ups or to ensure patients are taking their medication correctly.

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