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.

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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Protecting humanity: 70 years of the Geneva Conventions

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A photograph showing the 1864 Geneva Convention document with wax seals showing where it was signed.

The 1864 Geneva Convention, © MICR photo Alain Germond

Even war has rules.

The Geneva Conventions form the basis of modern international humanitarian law (IHL). And on 12 August 2019, the four Geneva Conventions currently in force turn 70 years old.

Since the original Geneva Convention was adopted in 1864, IHL has helped to preserve humanity in times of war.

The Geneva Conventions protect those who provide medical care to wounded soldiers and sailors. They enable prisoners of war to receive messages from their families. And they facilitate humanitarian relief – such as life-saving food and water – to civilians living under military occupation.

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From World Cup to First World War hospital: the surprising history of English cricket grounds

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A group of First World War soldiers, British Red Cross nurses and other volunteers sit outside the Trent Bridge Pavilion Hospital during World War I.

British Red Cross volunteers and injured servicemen at Trent Bridge auxiliary hospital, First World War

We won! The Cricket World Cup final was this weekend and many of us gathered to watch in pubs, living rooms and even on our phones. England was hosting and England won in a thrilling match – now we can celebrate!

But 100 years ago, our cricket grounds were hosting British Red Cross hospitals instead of matches and victory celebrations.

Cricket pavilions become First World War hospitals

Cricket grounds including Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Old Trafford in Manchester and Derby’s County Ground all hosted Red Cross hospitals caring for injured WWI soldiers and sailors.

They were among more than 3,000 hospitals set up or taken over in the UK to treat the wounded during the war years of 1914 to 1918.

Some, like the Pavilion Hospital at Trent Bridge, carried on working into 1919 until the last servicemen recovered.

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Festival ready? Don’t forget these five festival essentials

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Group of people at a music festival

It’s time to dig out your wellies, dust off your tent and hunt for that hard-earned ticket you spent ages queuing online for. The festival season is upon us.

Whether you’re off to one of the smaller, more intimate festivals, or descending upon the pop-up sensation that is Glastonbury – the festival checklist is always the same.

Wellies: check. Trendy (or outrageous) hat: check. A waterproof tent: well, fingers crossed.

Even if you do forget something, you can usually improvise – ask anyone who’s ever rocked the bin-bag poncho look.

But even so, there are a few small things well-worth taking. Don’t forget these five festival essentials.

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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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Voices against immigration detention: Isabella’s story

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An LGBT+ asylum seeker who experienced immigration detention, Isabella and her friend Joyce stand with their arms around each other at Pride in Glasgow.

Isabella, right, and her friend Joyce at Pride in Glasgow

“I had to leave my family, my country and my life because of my sexuality.”

As a lesbian, Isabella faces restrictive laws and prejudices in her birth country, Namibia, not least from her own father.

“My father believes that if I sleep with a man, I will be ‘cured’ of my sexuality,” Isabella said. She is afraid that if she returns home, her father will force her into an arranged marriage.

Isabella came to the UK in October 2017 to claim asylum. Since then, she has become an active member of the LGBT+ community in Glasgow, where she lives.

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The therapy dog bringing people together

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Up in the Shetland Islands lives a furry friend who’s helping people feel less lonely.

For #OneKindThing, we’ve been asking you to do just one kind act for someone – to surprise them, to help them or to put a smile on their face.

A dog called George already has that box ticked.

Meet George’s owner, Gillian

Gillian Ramsay works as a Community Connector for the British Red Cross through our partnership with the Co-op. She supports people who feel cut off from their community. And she’s got first-hand experience of that.

Her family moved from Yorkshire to the Shetland Islands 28 years ago. Gillian was a successful businesswoman. Her life was turned upside down when her husband died in a house fire.

Losing her home to a fire was devastating, and her husband’s death was an even greater loss. Gillian shut herself off from friends and family.

Living in a very rural area meant that she barely had any human contact during this time of self-inflicted isolation. She felt totally alone.

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