Putting kindness into action
The British Red Cross is a UK based charity that operates all over the world, helping millions of people in crisis in both the UK and across the world.
Created in Vienna in 1865, the British Red Cross has seven fundamental principles:
Humanity - assistance without discrimination; to relieve human suffering wherever possible.
Impartiality - to relieve the suffering of individuals guided solely by their needs, giving priority always to the most severe of cases.
Neutrality - being neutral at all times, not taking sides in any controversy, whether political, racial, religious, or ideological.
Independence - maintaining autonomy so the charity may be able to act according to their principles.
Voluntary Service - voluntary relief that is not influenced by personal gain.
Unity - The Red Cross Society, whatever part of the world they are in, must be open to all at all times.
Universality - All parts of society have equal status, and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other across the world.
Across the UK, the British Red Cross runs a wide range of services to support people in need in many different ways. The services they offer are practical, financial, supporting people from all walks of life.
The charity offers a service that allows people to borrow or hire a wheelchair, as well as short term use on return from hospital, to help people to live as independently as possible. They are excellent at helping refugees and asylum seekers, particularly children and those between 15 and 25. They help socially isolated people suffering loneliness by assisting them to engage with and build friendship in local communities, and take part in activities. They run a service that tracks missing family members in other countries who may have been lost in a natural disaster, or any type of crisis.
The charity has a range of helpful resources including free apps, that provide tips and advice in the events of crises such as extreme weather and high terrorist threats. They also offer immediate financial help to brits abroad who may have been caught up in violence, or natural disasters.
There are many opportunities for the public to support the British Red Cross, including a range of volunteering opportunities, and donation of money; you could volunteer as a part of the first aid team at large scale events, help run the wheelchair service, or befriend those who are lonely or isolated. There is also the possibility of volunteering in one of many charity shops across the country, help in emergencies and crisis response. You can volunteer with administration, as a driver, interpreter, or fundraiser. There are so many possibilities!
The charity was born in 1863, and was founded by a Swiss businessman named Henry Dunant. He witnessed the suffering of thousands of soldiers during a horrific battle in 1859. He was greatly disturbed by the sheer scale of people simply left to die all for a lack of care.
He channeled his sadness and outrage into pioneering a national relief society composed of volunteers, trained to provide help in war or similar kinds of crisis. The committee established itself in Geneva, and created the founding charter of the Red Cross, which was launched officially in 1863.
The charity made a massive difference throughout many wars over the coming decades, including the Franco-Prussian war, in which no discrimination was shown as they cared equally for both rival sides.
The British Red Cross was given its first ever Royal Charter by King Edward VII. Queen Alexandra became its president.