Category: UK

The British Red Cross is there for people in the UK. We can help with a wide range of things, from hiring a wheelchair to getting home from hospital. This mixture of useful information and true stories about our work shares information about our impact on individuals and communities.

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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Memories of a Red Cross volunteer at Aberfan

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British Red Cross volunteers and others unload supplies from a truck at the time of the Aberfan disaster.

© Media Wales

Episode 3 of the new series of the Crown, which just launched on Netflix, focuses on the disaster in the small Welsh village of Aberfan. In this tragedy, an 800-foot, water-logged coal-tip slipped and fell 500 yards down a mountainside. It engulfed a local school, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

John Cole was one of hundreds of British Red Cross volunteers who helped the local community in Aberfan. Now, his daughter Anna shares his story.

My Mum would say how Dad changed after Aberfan. I recall her saying how he came home after his time there and just sat, staring, dazed and haunted by what he had experienced.

John's Red Cross uniform, now many years old.

John’s Red Cross uniform

Dad was on the scene following the Aberfan disaster in 1966. He was a long standing and proud British Red Cross volunteer, and at just 21, he was one of the youngest to attend. To see the events of that day and the aftermath depicted in The Crown was harrowing and it gave me a sense of what my Dad would have seen and experienced, at such a young age.

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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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Why a lack of support is putting the most vulnerable at risk of trafficking  

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A young woman, who could be a survivor of trafficking and modern slavery, sits alone on a staircase outside a building.

Most people know the British Red Cross as an international aid organisation, supporting people across the globe affected by poverty, drought, tsunamis or hurricanes. What few people realise is that we also support victims of trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.

This largely involves providing people with clothing, food and emotional support immediately after they leave exploitation. But over the past year we have also been testing a model of long-term support to counteract the lack of government support available to survivors of trafficking.

Once someone is recognised by the Home Office as having been trafficked, they are entitled to only 45 days of basic accommodation and financial aid. After this period all support stops, but we know that survivors are still a long way from recovery – which is why we stepped in to help.

Through our front-line work, we see the effect that a lack of support has on people. It can leave them facing poverty, struggling to cope with complex mental health needs and – most worryingly – at risk of falling back into the hands of their traffickers.

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MapSwipe 2.0: How a mobile app can help save lives

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Three people smile as they work at laptop computers at a mapathon sponsored by Missing Maps.

A Missing Maps mapathon, © Mile91/Ben Langdon

In 2015, MapSwipe began as a solution to a complex question: how do we better identify where communities and people are, allowing mapping to be more efficient and effective?

Using a simple mobile app, volunteers can swipe through a series of satellite images, tapping in areas where they find features.

MapSwipe can be used anywhere, at any time, which provides an easy access point for individuals to contribute to the Missing Maps project without being restricted to their laptop.

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An hour in the life of a charity shop volunteer

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British Red Cross charity shop volunteers Sue, Mellissa and Rachel stand with their arms around each other .

British Red Cross charity shop volunteers: Sue, Mellissa (centre) and Rachel© British Red Cross

As a recent volunteer at my local British Red Cross charity shop, I want to share my experience. Above all, I want to encourage others to join me in volunteering for a fantastic cause!

Like many, I work full time so finding the time to volunteer can be challenging.

Fortunately, the British Red Cross is extremely accommodating and there is no minimum commitment time-wise. For example, I volunteered on my lunch hour at my local furniture and electrical shop in Redhill, Surrey.

As a passionate writer, I also blog for the British Red Cross. Through my writing, I help to connect readers to the cause and what the British Red Cross does.

I have always loved writing, and it’s great that I can use my passion to contribute towards something so important.

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Dreams and hard work: refugee journalists share their stories

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Ahmad accepts his Scottish Refugee Journalism award.

Ahmad accepting his award, © Paul Chappells/British Red Cross

A life lived without a voice is like a bird without wings.

            – Mada, VOICES Ambassador, Glasgow

Refugees know better than anyone what issues they face. Recently, the Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards gave refugees the chance to celebrate their own experiences in their own words.

Many were members of the VOICES Network, a British Red Cross project that helps refugees speak out for change.

Here are some of their stories.

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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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