What does volunteering mean to you? Standing on the street holding a bucket collecting for charity? Helping at your child’s school with sport, reading or art, or sitting by hospital beds providing a friendly face and a chat?
It can mean all of these things, and much more. Did you know there are an estimated 15.2 million people who volunteer at least once a month in the UK?
This year we are working with the British Red Cross on a set of films, photos and stories featuring their volunteers. We’re also running a number of smartphone filmmaking training courses to enable the volunteers to share their own stories more readily.
What we’ve seen so far has been inspiring. We’ve been invited into volunteer’s homes and offered lunch; we’ve been behind the scenes in some of their UK projects and shops and heard some amazing stories from a host of incredible people.
So, as 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross and to celebrate Red Cross week this week (6-12th May), we thought we’d delve deeper.
Five things we didn’t know about the British Red Cross.
Would you know how to help someone who collapsed in front of you? The British Red Cross have First Aid apps you can download from their website. This free app provides easy-to-learn skills for a range of first aid situations. I’m off to download mine now!
You could have a huge impact in your local community by volunteering at times of crisis. ‘Emergency response’ and ‘Community reserve’ volunteers provide support during emergencies such as flood or fire. With training you could provide much needed assistance to the emergency services and to those people affected emotionally or physically.
In 2017 the British Red Cross provided support to 9,300 people affected by emergencies. These included those affected by the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London as well as the Grenfell Tower fire.
It’s not just about emergencies. They also provide practical and emotional assistance for people in their own home. This can include transporting people home from hospital, helping with daily tasks, offering wheelchair loans, financial advice and emotional support.
Their ‘Connecting Communities’ teams, work to reach those who are lonely or isolated. They encourage people to build-up their confidence and meet new friends. They assist people rediscover or take up new hobbies and interests.
The first few days after leaving exploitation are the critical ones. Those who have survived trafficking and exploitation are highly vulnerable and need immediate assistance.
The British Red Cross have a programme called ‘Your Space’ which provides accommodation, advice and support to trafficked people immediately after they have left exploitation. Currently based in the East Midlands but with plans to expand across the UK, it gives people time and space to make a decision about their next steps.
And finally because it made us smile…
During WW1, 90,000 people volunteered for the British Red Cross. Many, known as ‘VAD’s’, were nurses, stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers. But there were many more behind the scenes working in the Central Work Rooms. They made bandages, knitted hot-water-bottle covers and socks and sewed pyjamas.
“We are very pleased this evening as the pin that the girl swallowed on Wednesday last has just emerged safely- she has been having cotton wool sandwiches and suet pudding etc. It really is rather wonderful to think that it has travelled so far insider her without pricking!”
VAD nurse Helen Beale
All these facts, figures and stories can be found on the British Red Cross website at; www.redcross.org