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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Knowing first aid helped Scarlett save her father’s life

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It was a peaceful day in Gloucester. Richard was working out in his home gym. His daughter Scarlett and her friend were hanging out in the living room.

But when Richard became unresponsive and stopped breathing, Scarlett used the first aid skills her dad had taught her to save his life.

“I complained to Scarlett about feeling ill. She offered to fetch me a glass of water so I went upstairs to lie down,” Richard said.

“When she returned, I’d collapsed on the bed and I wasn’t breathing. She said my face had turned blue.”

Luckily, Richard and his wife are both paramedics. They knew the importance of first aid and taught Scarlett how to do chest compressions when she was young.

“Scarlett began by moving me off the bed and tilting my head back to clear my airway.

“After looking, listening and feeling for breath, she called 999. An operator helped her by counting out a rhythm for her to perform chest compressions.

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Listening to the voices of the people we help

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A mobile cinema in Uganda provides a unique and engaging way for communities to get more information about Ebola and how to prevent and protect themselves from the disease.

A mobile cinema in Uganda provides information about Ebola.

Question: How do you know what someone really needs in a crisis?

Answer: You ask them.

Community engagement and accountability is an approach to delivering aid that emphasises the importance of participation and communication with communities.

Now the Red Cross have launched a new tool to help humanitarians become better at listening to the people they help.

Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, our new Community Engagement hub brings together information and expertise from across the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as well as other humanitarian organisations. It is available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

We thought we’d celebrate the hub’s launch with a quick potted tour of our community engagement work around the world.

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I want my pictures to help refugees from Myanmar

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Dil Seher, who fled violence in Myanmar and now lives in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, holds a photograph of her husband and child.

Dil Seher, a widow, holds a picture of her missing husband, © Farzana Hossen/British Red Cross

Tragedy, hope and ordinary days: photographer Farzana Hossen reveals what life is like in the world’s largest refugee camp. It’s now home to 740,000 people who fled Myanmar for Bangladesh two years ago.

I have visited the camp many times. At the beginning of the emergency, what I saw horrified me. People were just lying on the street and dying in front of my eyes.

There were dead bodies with children standing to one side watching, crying. Many had lost their parents, whether through death or when they fled.

I was left feeling helpless, a situation where you are exposed to so much suffering that you feel there are just too many people to help. Of course, I wanted to, and did in the way I could.

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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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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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