Category: UK

Post relating to the British Red Cross in the United Kingdom

From flag days to Facebook: the evolution of Red Cross Appeal Week


Red Cross Appeal Week is upon us once again and it’s big news for us staff and volunteers.

However, there are lots of other people – perhaps you included – who don’t have a clue what it’s all about.  So as someone who looked blank when I first heard Red Cross Appeal Week mentioned, soon after I joined the Red Cross, I’m here to enlighten you.

Think of it as a whopper of a  fundraising push, where Red Cross staff, volunteers and members of the public  pull out all the stops to generate as much cash as possible over one week for the organisation.

They do this each and every year with great enthusiasm, energy and imagination. I’m doing my bit this time round by doing some street collecting and taking on a challenge my colleague Mark and I have devised – the Big Red Climb. Read all about it, and if you’re feeling generous, please donate on our Justgiving page; we are hoping to raise £500.

What is now known as Red Cross Appeal Week began during the Second World War , when the Red Cross raised massive sums of money through flag days. One of these, in December 1942 for prisoners of war, prompted the most flag sellers ever, with many relatives of prisoners of war fundraising. It was the most successful flag day of the Second World War raising nearly £400,000.

Despite the need to improvise when some flags and collecting tins were destroyed by enemy action, the twelve flag days held during the Second World War raised more than £2.6 million of vital funds. Red Cross Appeal Week, the modern day equivalent of flag days, started in 1971, and has continued to raise millions of pounds.

A lot has changed since then and today Appeal Week takes place as much online as it does outdoors. You can join the Facebook Appeal Week group, share your photos on Flickr, watch our music video on YouTube and tweet away to your heart’s content using #RCAW. There’s also a special sticker you can add to your Twitter or Facebook profile picture to show the world that you’re supporting the Red Cross this week.

So, now you know what it’s all about, you’ll want to get involved. There are all sorts of ways you can help – big and small, conventional and more wacky. Sign up now and help us make this the best Red Cross Appeal Week ever.

Find out what’s happening near you and how you can get involved

Why I’m cycling across Britain for the Red Cross


Guest post from Megan Lucas

It had never crossed my mind that I would need the services of the Red Cross.

I thought I was aware of many of the wonderful ways in which the British Red Cross helps people both in the UK and across the globe, but clearly I didn’t know about them all. That changed very quickly two days before Christmas in 2008, when I found myself receiving their help after my life suddenly, and without warning, was turned upside-down.

At 5 in the morning, my partner and I were woken by the sound of exploding Christmas decorations, the bedroom quickly started to fill with thick, black and acrid smoke, followed by a further bang as the house electrics finally gave in, combined with the most terrible noise of the fire taking hold in the living room. Our home had turned into one of the most inhospitable environments imaginable in an instant due to an electrical fault with our television.

We happened to be renovating at the time which had resulted in our smoke detector being temporarily unplugged, so our lives were saved by the noise of the exploding baubles, and in another fortuitous moment, the front door keys were quickly found so we could escape the house and call 999. The fire brigade arrived within minutes, although it felt like an eternity, and they set to work extinguishing the fire whilst an ambulance arrived to take us both to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and a few minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the lovely people from the Red Cross’ Fire and Emergency Support Service arrived at the house and began to take care of our recently arrived and concerned parents and make the fire-fighters a richly deserved cup of tea before coming to meet us at the hospital. They found us there, blackened, shell-shocked with no idea what to do next.

They proceeded to do the most amazing job; talking things through with us, giving us advice on what to do next, making sure we were ok and providing us with spare, clean clothes that were kindly donated by Tesco. They said the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for which I am eternally grateful, and until that day I didn’t know the service even existed.

Now, just over  a year on I can happily say the damage has been repaired and life has returned to normality. It hasn’t all been plain sailing but thanks to the British Red Cross a traumatic event was made that little bit easier to cope with at a critical time.

Shortly after the event I decided I needed to give something back because I was so touched by what they did for me, so this summer I will be cycling a 1000 mile route between John O’ Groats and Lands End. I hope that this will raise a significant sum so the British Red Cross can continue to help people in situations like ours, along with all the other wide reaching and varied situations in which they do such fantastic work.

Megan’s JustGiving page

Sign up to run, ride, walk or swim for the British Red Cross

Podcast: Two sides of emergency response


Red Cross emergency volunteers are specially trained to act fast and save lives in a crisis situation. However, it’s not all about blue lights and ambulances. Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes an altogether different approach is called for. In this podcast, volunteers Matt Smith and Louise Elstow describe how they used their skills and training to deal with two very different situations.

[audio:|titles=ER lifesavers UK]



Emergency response in the UK


Graham Claxton has been volunteering for the British Red Cross for just over 6 years. Originally based in Hampshire, he’s now a volunteer team leader in the Emergency Response department London.

Imagine being bed-ridden with a chronic lung condition, reliant on oxygen and someone to provide you with your every need. This must be a challenging situation at the best of times but now imagine you have lost your electricity. Suddenly your source of heat, light, means of cooking, and even your means of moving is cut off. How could you provide help?

Whilst on an Emergency Response shift last week, I visited a man in his forties who had lost the power supply to his home. When I arrived, the relief on his face was clear. He was extremely cold, laid up in bed with thin blankets, without lighting, hot water and lacking the ability to cook or even make a hot drink. All it took was spending an hour with him, providing him with blankets, torches, a self-heating meal, and a medical check up and a cup of tea.

A quick chat about the annoyingly noisy builders outside the window and a laugh and a joke, he was feeling much better. Giving up an hour of my time meant the world to this man. Help can come in a variety of ways and in this case it was a cup of tea that proved to be the lifesaver.

Last month I visited a block of 67 flats whose power and water had been off for the whole day. Fortunately when I arrived the power had just been returned although the water was still off. I spent the evening chatting to the residents and seeing how the Red Cross could help. The greatest need was for water and after speaking to a nearby supermarket, they were willing to provide large bottles of water for residents. This came as great relief to one particular family who needed water to boil their two babies formula. Although no huge amount of aid was given that night, the simplest task of providing a few bottles of water really made a difference to the residents living there.

Read more about our UK emergency response work

The London marathon is just around the corner…


Getting prepared to run the London Marathon requires a lot of work, time and dedication. All those cold, winter evenings out running while your friends are down the pub, sometimes it can feel like a real hard slog. In order to give myself a much needed break from training and to raise some money for the British Red Cross I decided to put on a fundraising event. I figured it would be another way for people to donate to the Red Cross and have a brilliant evening listening to some of the best live music around.

It seemed like a pretty daunting task to begin with, asking bands to give up their time for free and pulling in favours from pretty much everyone I know, but once I told them that all the money raised on the evening would be going to such a cause they were all a hundred percent on board.

Working with my good friend Stella we set about booking the bands, hiring the venue and publicising it with posters designed by 3DGlasses and an online social media campaign. We were so grateful because everyone donated their time, space and talent for free. I was so moved by their generosity.

Once the big night arrived everything fell nicely into place at the Fighting Cocks in Kingston – Charlotte and Lucy, dressed in 1940’s tea dresses, were manning the cake stall selling delicious cupcakes to the hungry gig goers. Gin Panic, Three Colours, Heck Tate, Nitkowski, Silent Front and Ex Libras were blowing the crowd away and everyone was donating what they could afford. It was a brilliant evening made even better knowing why we were doing this. I want to thank everyone who was involved in making the event such a huge success.

I’m still completely stoked by how it all went and the memories and music are helping me get through my final stages of training. I ran 20 miles last weekend and 18 miles this weekend, it’s probably easier to list the parts of my body that don’t hurt at the moment but these pains are nothing in the grand scheme of things. Knowing that the money I raise is going to help so many people keeps driving me on and I know it will drive me on to finish the 26.2 miles on the 25 April 2010. If you are in London on that day come down and cheer on the Red Cross running team as we make our way around the course. All the support will be much needed!

You can sponsor Kerrie on her JustGiving page.

Got your own place at the London Marathon? Sign up to run for the British Red Cross now.

Where does a barber go for a haircut?


Have you ever wondered where a barber goes for a haircut, how a bus driver gets to his holiday destination or whether a politician debates which car to buy with their significant other before taking the plunge? What about what happens when a first aider needs first aid?

Picture the scene. Friday night. It’s been a long week at work. You’ve just left your work colleagues behind after attending a fascinating technology talk, and you start to head home. You take the tentative steps down Oxford Street tube station, you lose your footing and you fall down five or six stairs.

That was my Friday night. Ouch.

An innocent bystander came to my aid, offered her assistance and helped me get back on my feet again. I thanked her and sent her on her way, politely declining the offer of further help.

I tried to move off. I started walking. I was in agony. I realised I’d sprained my ankle. I hobbled down the escalator and got on the tube in the direction of Kings Cross. I got off and made slow progress, walking tentatively through the cavernous maze of new underground tunnels at Kings Cross station, to make my way to my overground train.

45 minutes later, I arrived at my home station and much to my horror, there were no cabs, so I had to hobble home. The usual ten minute walk took me 40 minutes, including an agonising climb up the final flight of stairs in my block of flats.

At this point my left ankle had swollen to twice the size of my right. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer, slung a tea towel over my shoulder and made my way to the sofa for some serious rest, ice, compression and elevation.

As the pain radiating from my ankle slightly subsided, what TV programme did I watch to try and take my mind off it? Nightwatch – a programme about the work of  emergency services. How ironic!

In a way, it’s a good job my first aid duty got cancelled on Sunday. I wouldn’t have been much use.

Every cloud has a silver lining though. As a first aider who received first aid this weekend, I am much better prepared for helping people cope with the symptoms of sprained ankles next time around!

What would you do if we gave you £100?


If the British Red Cross gave you £100 one day you’d probably be a bit surprised as you’d know we wouldn’t give away our valuable cash willy nilly. But there you are, just say, with a crisp one hundred smackers in your hand from us, what do you do with it? Get the rounds in at your local pub? Get tickets to the footy? Or, use it to generate more much-needed cash for us?

Young man painting at art eventIf it’s the latter, you might be tempted to take it straight to the bookies for a flutter to do this, but we’d have to insist you took that £100 and turned it into £300 or more for the British Red Cross through a brilliant fundraising project or event. This is not just a hypothetical scenario, but the basis of Hundred 2 Hundreds – a brand new initiative we have launched, open to  young people across the southeast.  And I think it’s a winner.

Rather than simply asking people to donate to the Red Cross, Hundred 2 Hundreds is a way of encouraging groups of people aged 15 to 25, to use their initiative to work together and come up with their own inspiring fundraising projects and events. With a bit of help from us – £100 plus advice and support from local fundraisers and youth coordinators – each group aims to at least treble the amount given.  A judging panel will make the £100 award to nine teams.

Group of young people at sponsored wheelchair push

The initiative is based on a pilot which resulted in three innovative projects: Create for Cross (in Cambridgeshire), Centenary Wheelchair Push (in Hampshire) and Red Rave in (Kent).

So, feeling inspired? If you’re aged 15 to 25 and live in the southeast and reckon you can treble your, or rather our money, to support our vital work, email Angela Morgan or Wendy Solesbury for an application form. The closing date for entries is 8 September.

Find out more

Reach dizzy heights for Red Cross Appeal Week


The idea of holding a fundraising event is daunting to some. It evokes images of large-scale dos, fraught with lots of planning, organising… and headaches. But holding one can be a simple, stress-free affair. Take the event my colleague Mark Cox and I have come up with to raise funds for Red Cross Appeal Week on May 2 – 8.

Our Big Red Climb is inspired by Vertical Rush – a fundraising idea popular with City workers. It involves Mark and I climbing up as many flights of stairs of our office as possible over an hour one day during the Appeal Week. With seven gasp-inducing flights in our building, going up them even once is impressive in my book.

As to the planning, the Big Red Climb involves just two participants (Mark and me) and takes place over our lunch hour. So all it took to arrange was a 5-minute meeting while at our desks over a biscuit and a spot of tea.

Organising the Big Red Climb will simply involve us taking a sponsorship form round our office – Red Cross staff are a generous bunch – and putting a few posters up to publicise it.

The biggest challenge apart from those pesky stairs will be pre-event preparation on the day; we will have to remember to bring our sports kit in, and eat an energy-packed breakfast.

What money-spinning steps will you take for Red Cross Appeal Week? If you’re feeling lazy, you could simply donate, or spread the word about Red Cross Appeal Week through your social media networks. Otherwise why not sign up for a local event. You can get inspired with these fundraising ideas and also read our top tips for organising an event.