Clear out, drop off: why sustainable shopping should be at the top of your 2020 list

By
A woman in Bangladesh, who has been helped to start her own tailoring business by the British Red Cross, sits at her sewing maching with clothes she has sown behind her.

© Farzana Hossen/British Red Cross

Fact: almost half of women in the UK admit to owning too many clothes.

We’re calling on everyone to clear out for a good cause, and donate to and buy from our charity shops instead – especially with the exciting launch of our It starts with her appeal this month.

Read on for reasons to shake up your shopping habits and opt for a more sustainable route with us.

More

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

By
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.

More

Decluttering your wardrobe made easy with these three tips

By

Having a wardrobe clear-out for charity makes it onto a lot of New Year’s resolutions list, and this year we have an amazing cause to spur you on.

We’re kicking off 2020 with our It starts with her appeal, where through UK Aid Match, every pound spent in our charity shops on women’s clothes and accessories will be doubled by the UK government until 31 March. Together, we can help thousands of strong women to build stronger communities in Bangladesh.

So what are you waiting for? Find your nearest British Red Cross shop and spring your January resolution into action.

More

Small acts of kindness become powerful when tackling loneliness

By
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.

More

How the Red Cross brought Mada’s refugee family back together

By
Mada stands hugging her daughter Hala with the UK Parliament in the background. They were helped to join Mada's husband in the UK through the British Red Cross family reunion programme.

Mada and Hala in London

We always hear stories and see emotional refugee family reunion videos but what are the events that lead to this moment of joy? Today I want to share the full story with you.

In 2012 my beautiful country, Syria, was engulfed in war, wages were plummeting and living costs were sky high. My husband lost his job and we could no longer provide for our family or guarantee their safety.

We were terrified our kids would go to school and not make it back home. Living in such uncertainty and danger is devastating for a parent.

The conflict was suffocating us. We had to leave.

The pain of three years of separation

We made it to Egypt, which was also embroiled in conflict, and political and economic instability. My husband decided to seek safety in the UK and left us there temporarily as he feared the whole family would not make the journey.

My husband made the treacherous and, at times, life-threatening journey to the UK. When we said goodbye to him, I could have never imagined that we would not see his face again for three years.

For those three unbearable years I worked two jobs to provide the basics for my two young children who ached for their dad. We felt so alone.

More

I knew how to help my daughter when she was choking

By

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.

More

Memories of a Red Cross volunteer at Aberfan

By
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.

More

How one volunteer is bringing a little warmth after the Doncaster flood

By
A group of emergency services workers pull an inflatable raft carrying a man to safety through a street covered in water in the Doncaster flood in Yorkshire.

Emergency help: Doncaster flood

A week on from the night that brought widespread flooding to parts of Yorkshire and the East Midlands, one volunteer tells us about his work in flood-hit Doncaster.

Looking back at a busy week volunteering in Doncaster with the Red Cross, one moment stands out.

It was the look on the face of a young lad whose birthday it was. He’d come in to a rest centre with his brother and mum and they were all a bit bewildered and upset at having to leave home.

Someone from the council had arranged for a prescription of the boys’ asthma inhalers – in the family’s hurry to leave they had left them at home. The Red Cross went down to the local supermarket and picked the prescription up. But, as we’d got wind it was the little lad’s birthday, we thought it’d be nice to get him a cake while we were there.

When we came back we lit the candles and the whole centre stopped to sing happy birthday. The look of sheer joy his face brightened up a day that he could have otherwise remembered only for what went wrong.

More