From refugees in some of the world’s poorest countries to youngsters at a local football match, the Red Cross is a charity which supports a wide spectrum of people.

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The charity officially opened its new eastern region offices, in Prince of Wales Road, Norwich, this week surrounded by staff, volunteers and people who had benefited from their work.

Refugees who faced destitution when they first arrived in Norwich gave speeches about how the Red Cross had helped them.

The new open-plan offices have two break-out rooms and better facilities to conduct one-to-one interviews. Services available in the office include advocacy, support and drop-in sessions, as well as international tracing and messaging to reunite missing loved ones and first aid training for the local community.

Services manager Lucy Atkinson said it was a struggle to provide a high level of service and care at the old office in St Augustine’s.

“The new offices give us a lot more confidentiality which is reassuring for people. A lot of people are in a vulnerable position when they come to see us,” she said.

She said that the new offices were easier to get to, as many people who used the service relied on public transport to visit. The team of six staff and 10 volunteers had been in their offices in St Augustine’s Street since 2003.

“It was a very long process to find somewhere to move. We had been looking for several years to find a building that was suitable for us.”

Miss Atkinson praised the volunteers’ work and said that none of it would be possible without them.

The Red Cross also helps people cope after disasters such as flooding and fires, provides first aid support at events and runs a scheme which supports older people across the county who have recently come out of hospital. Last year the team helped more than 680 people in the region cope with crises and learn skills.

The charity is appealing for more volunteers to gain first aid skills and provide support on Norwich City match days. Training is free.

If you are interested in volunteering, call Jill Noble on 01603 253401.

Faith’s Story

Faith Ekonorove came to the UK from Ghana when she was seven months pregnant with her daughter, Precious, who is now 18 months old.

She moved to be with her baby’s father, who she met in Ghana when he was a tourist. It didn’t work out and Faith found herself homeless and she unsuccessfully tried to claim asylum.

“I was told that I had no hope of staying,” she said.

But with the help of the charity, she appealed the decision in court and was granted asylum.

“The charity has been amazing. They helped me to apply for benefits and when they were delayed, they gave me vouchers.

“I am so happy to be here in Norwich. I love it. The Red Cross really helped me.”

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