A Red Cross volunteer helps a woman in a rest centre set up for those evacuated from their homes.

Photo credit: Tom Pilston / Panos / British Red Cross

An unexploded World War Two (WW2) bomb was found at a construction site near Spaghetti Junction on Monday. For the next two nights, volunteers from the British Red Cross ran a rest centre to support people evacuated from the local area.

“My experience for the night I’ve been here has been fantastic,” said Sarah, from Aston.

Sarah has arthritis and was evacuated with her partner, daughter and oldest son.

“You Red Cross people have been brilliant. You’ve helped the elderly, you’ve helped the people with their medical needs. I don’t know, I wish there was something else I could do and say to you.

“Because if it wasn’t for you the people that needed your help would’ve been in hospital.

“I’m just glad to be able to say ‘thank you’ for everything you’ve done for us.”

Why are there still bombs from WW2?

Due to wide scale bombing in the UK during WW2, there are still some unexploded bombs in the ground. They are generally safe while untouched, but when uncovered need to be disposed of properly.

The structure of the bomb found near Spaghetti Junction was quite fragile and couldn’t be moved. As such, a controlled explosion needed to take place.

People were evacuated from the surrounding area while the device was made safe.

But doing this can take some time. That’s why the British Red Cross stepped in, working with Birmingham Police and City Council to set up a much-needed rest centre for those who had been evacuated.

No panic at the rest centre

The rest centre was set up in GMAC Alexander Stadium with 400 beds and bedding, and stocked with essentials like nappies and toiletries. Nearly 200 people were supported through Monday night.

Red Cross volunteers were also on hand to provide both practical and emotional support, and give first aid. On the first night, they helped five people with their medical needs and worked with GPs to arrange medication for two of them.

The rest centre stayed open for a second night while people waited for a structural engineer to deem the area safe for people to return home.

John Smith was among the Red Cross emergency response volunteers at the rest centre. He said: “The atmosphere was relaxed and people were generally happy.

“They wanted to get home and get on with things. We got on very well with the Birmingham City staff and their agencies. It worked well.”

Emergency response in the UK

The Red Cross is well known for its response to emergencies internationally, but emergency response is also a core part of Red Cross work in the UK.

Red Cross volunteers frequently provide both practical and emotional support to people in the UK in times of crisis.

From supporting families after a house fire, to setting up rest centres when people are evacuated, Red Cross volunteers are always on hand.

And while supporting people during a WW2 bomb scare might seem novel, Red Cross volunteers have actually seen this many times before, including in Bath last year.