Category: Health

The British Red Cross supports health and social care projects around the UK. From helping people home from hospital to supporting people to feel less lonely, we can help.

It’s time to listen to young people, like me, on loneliness

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Rhianydd Crawshaw, a university student who felt lonely and felt better after volunteering at a British Red Cross book shop, smiles at the camera.

© Rhianydd Crawshaw

 

When Rhianydd, a 22-year-old student, experienced loneliness, she turned to volunteering for the British Red Cross to find friends and feel more connected. Now, she wants people in power to take this issue seriously.

I’ve always been an introverted person, and I really like my own space. But I also do really like talking and hanging out with people, I guess you could call me an “ambivert”.

During my first year at university, I couldn’t drink alcohol due to medication I was taking at the time, so I didn’t go out and I tended to avoid situations where heavy alcohol consumption would be present. And, during freshers week – that’s a lot!

I’m not saying that was the only reason I was lonely or struggled to make many friends at university, but it was definitely a contributing factor. This led to me spending most of my time alone locked up in my room not talking to anyone. I was miserable.

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Small acts of kindness become powerful when tackling loneliness

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A British Red Cross loneliness volunteer and an older man stand in a doorway, smiling.

@Simon Rawles/British Red Cross

As we head into the New Year, and with a new government, it feels like the right time to reflect on how far we have come with tackling loneliness in the UK. We know it continues to be one of the biggest public health crises of our times and its effect is especially important during the festive season.

At the British Red Cross, we see through our services up and down the country how Christmas can be an especially difficult time for people who are living with loneliness. Nonetheless, the good news is that together with our partners, we are making big steps towards a less lonely year in 2020.

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I knew how to help my daughter when she was choking

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When Gemma’s two-year-old daughter was choking on a plastic brick, she knew what to do and acted quickly. Here, Gemma recalls what happened, and how a video she’d seen on Facebook helped her save her daughter.

Choking is very common with young children and is a frightening thing for any parent to have to face. But if it should happen, knowing the simple skills to help can make all the difference.

When my two-year-old daughter, Seven, started choking, I remembered a British Red Cross first aid video that I’d recently watched on Facebook and immediately knew what to do.

It was a normal morning and I was at home with my five children.

Suddenly, my eldest daughter, Boo, shouted upstairs that her little sister, Seven, was choking.

I rushed downstairs and when I got halfway down, I saw Seven and could see that she wasn’t breathing.

Her eyes were out like dinner plates, her chest wasn’t moving and she wasn’t making any noise at all.

I suppose I always thought that when someone was choking it would be noisy, but she was just silent.

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Make your wheelchair the reason you’re fit – not the excuse

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Jordan Jarrett-Bryan plays wheelchair basketball.

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan in action

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan is a former Paralympic GB wheelchair basketball player and sports reporter, Channel 4 News

I struggle to remember a time when I wasn’t active. I’ve always been into sport or at least physical activity, mainly because I’ve always been a hyperactive and competitive person.

Running, jumping, playing football, basketball, rounders: all were things I did daily when I was a boy. It was a huge cause of being an active and healthy young boy, but more importantly a happy boy.

I was nowhere near the fastest in my class at primary school – I remember running made me the happiest, though. As someone with a disability, I can also remember not ever being too conscious about the fact I had an artificial leg.

There may have been times, it may have been uncomfortable, but I refused to not take part in sports.

I don’t use a wheelchair for everyday use, but getting used to one when I first started playing wheelchair basketball was weirdly liberating.

Playing a sport without running and jumping was different, but I was still fast, powerful, moving. Active. It joined two of three most important elements of sports – winning, health and enjoyment.

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How tackling loneliness at its core could reduce the burden on public services

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A man sits alone at an empty table in his kitchen with a hot drink. He has been helped by the British Red Cross loneliness service.

© Simon Rawles/British Red Cross

Zoë Abrams is Executive Director of Communications at British Red Cross and Co-chair of the Loneliness Action Group

At the Red Cross, we believe that connected communities are most resilient and able to withstand crisis. In these times of political uncertainty, it is positive to see the new civil society minister prioritising building more resilient communities.

With an astonishing one in five people in the UK saying they feel often or always lonely, this is a huge issue. The negative impacts are not only felt by individuals who are lacking meaningful connections, but it also influences the wider health and wellbeing of communities.

Through our leadership of the Loneliness Action Group  – a network of over 50 civil society organisations and businesses  – we’ve worked in partnership with the UK government and held them to account for the commitments they’ve made to tackle this modern epidemic.

It’s in that spirit that we have today published a report on progress made against the government’s loneliness strategy.

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10 things you might not know about the Red Cross

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A child displaced by a tsunami in Indonesia receives a Red Cross blanket.

Photo credit: Hariandi Hafid / British Red Cross

1. A gruesome battle sparked the idea for the Red Cross

On his journey to meet Napoleon III in 1859, the businessman Henry Dunant witnessed a bloody battle in present-day Italy. What he saw horrified him – men were left to die in agony without medical aid.

This sparked his vision for impartial medical volunteers, who helped the wounded no matter what side of the war they were on.

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Loneliness: how helping others helped Shuchi feel less lonely herself

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Imagine leaving your friends, family and career, and moving to a new continent. It’s a big adventure, but also scary.

Will you fit in, find friends, make a new life for yourself?

Shuchi, 34, faced all this when she moved from India to London with her husband.

“I suddenly felt very lonely as I moved here,” Shuchi said. “Even though London is very welcoming and I was able to settle down in this new environment very quickly.

“Back in Delhi I had a family group of around 30 people who I would interact with quite frequently. And I also had a large network of friends.

“I didn’t expect moving away… to impact me like this.”

Realising she felt lonely, Shuchi took steps to meet more people, including joining a salsa class, which gave her a lift.

“I would go… to my salsa class, where I would be surrounded by people and I might talk to everyone in the class during those two hours.

But then when it was over, “I would come home and still feel that I was not fulfilled.”

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Here comes the bride: how a Red Cross wheelchair helped cancer survivor Madeleine on her wedding day

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Madeleine and Roy sit on chairs and kiss wearing their wedding clothes. A British Red Cross wheelchair helped Madeleine get around at the ceremony.

Madeleine and Ray, © Emily Snoding/EJ Photography

Survived cancer. Got a wheelchair from the British Red Cross. Made it down the aisle. This is Madeleine’s real-life checklist.

One of the things you can do for your #OneKindThing is help us with our mobility aids service. Our wonderful staff and volunteers get thousands of people moving up and down the UK every day. Last year, we loaned out almost 60,000 wheelchairs.

More than just a practical thing, a wheelchair loan can truly change someone’s life. It represents independence. Hope. Recovery. One person who can vouch for that is Madeleine Wickett.

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