December 9 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Every day hundreds of people give up their free time to help others in need. Reporter DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP spent a morning with the British Red Cross to find out more about their volunteering efforts.
Anne Mills, 65, from Wymondham, is awaiting a hip operation and suffers from hypoparathyroidism - a condition leading to low calcium levels in the blood.
With her husband, Leslie, 66, the couple made contact with the Medical Loan centre to hire a wheelchair for when their grandchildren visited.
Mrs Mills said: “I could not have managed without the Red Cross. They are doing fantastic work.”
Mr Mills added: “With the wheelchair it meant Anne was not home-bound”
Nick Chipperfield, 66, of Thorpe St Andrew, used the Medical Loan centre after his wife Pamela, 64, sustained a lower leg fracture after a fall.
When Mr Chipperfield took her on a routine visit to the fracture clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, he had to park more than 200m away and it took 15 minutes to find a wheelchair.
Mr Chipperfield said because of the charity they are now able to get to the hospital and doctors with more ease.
He said: “We are very grateful that this service is here.”
The word “crisis” can mean many things to many people but whatever the circumstance many of us would have experienced at least one in our lifetime - whether on a global scale or personally.
One thing that is not guaranteed though is the support we may, or may not, have received during the time we needed help the most.
But for around 500 British Red Cross volunteers, throughout Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, this is their moment to shine and support by giving up their own time to help others in need.
British Red Cross event first aid service co-ordinator, Iain Jennings, explained that the people who volunteered for the charity were the lifeblood of the organisation and without their help the services on offer would cease to exist.
He said: “I started as a volunteer myself and last year alone I worked 300 hours of voluntary work.
“We do need people from all walks of life as we could not do what we do without them - the Red Cross is massive in the community and we have fingers in every pie. There is not anyone we do not help out, all is encompassed and no one is excluded.”
As well as overseas help the British Red Cross covers dozens of crisis situations with its main five areas of help in event first aid, emergency response, health and social care, fundraising and refugee support.
An example of event first aid in the local community is the help volunteers give at Norwich City Football Club. During most home games a total of 22 volunteers help out by providing medical care for people who require it.
And at the charity’s headquarters in the north of the city, off Coronation Road, a group of volunteers help to run the Medical Loan centre - more than 19 individuals across the county’s 14 outlets.
In the last three months alone 510 clients have used the centre, with a total of 750 pieces of equipment loaned out, such as wheelchairs and commodes.
Barbara Roberts, 67, has been a volunteer for the British Red Cross for seven years and mainly helps care for people in their homes, such as doing shopping and supporting with recovery after being discharged from hospital.
Mrs Roberts began volunteering before her late husband Eric died six years ago and although has lots of friends she felt she wanted to “give something back”.
“I have had a lovely life and my mother always said give back to society what you have taken out,” she said.
“I have found out that since volunteering that something I am good at is giving people back their confidence. I take people shopping and possibly go to a cafe with them. I end up doing anything really. Some of it can be tea and sympathy and other things is quite involved.
“You get a wonderful lot of satisfaction out of it.”
Mrs Roberts mainly helps out with the Support at Home team, based at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
Senior complex discharge co-ordinator, Emma Fraulo, is a trained nurse at the N&N and described the team’s efforts at the N&N as “invaluable”.
She said: “They fill in a gap we do not have the resources for. It’s invaluable to have a service like this in the hospital.”
The team also take referrals, which could see volunteers spending their time keeping patients company during their stay at the hospital.
More than just a charity, the British Red Cross and its volunteers can both save and change lives as well as raising vital funds to help hundreds of thousands of people in crisis every year.
And one thing is clear, that without the help of others it simply could not do what it does best.
• If you are interested in volunteering, regardless of experience, background, or how much time you have to give, please email people and learning manager, Sarah Hurren, on SarahHurren@redcross.org.uk.