accessibility & help

Be more than a passenger – get on board the Big Red Cross Bus

Tuesday 7 June, 2011
For further information: Sam Whitwham (Tues-Fri) swhitwham@redcross.org.uk
Contact number: 0117 3012608 or 07834 525 350

The Big Red Cross Bus stops off in Exeter on June 14, as part of its nationwide tour to sign up new volunteers. Exeter volunteer Alex Taylor will be on board to welcome potential new recruits.

Alex, 65, a social worker from Exeter, had her first contact with the organisation as a seven-year-old learning first aid but, 18 months ago, she got involved again and now provides event first aid, emergency response and community based first aid to groups and individuals who would not normally access first aid training.
The Big Red Cross Bus is just the ticket for anyone who wants to find out how they can make a difference to the lives of others and to their own communities – and you don’t need to give up all your spare time to do it.

Alex spent most of her career as a social worker in the UK but in the past 12 years has been concentrating on children’s welfare work abroad in countries like Ethiopia, Bulgaria, India and The Gambia. She says: “For the past four or five years I’ve been concentrating on setting up an eye clinic in Ethiopia and at the end of it I thought, right, what do I want to do next. I’m still fit and well and eager to do something.

“I go to community events and spend the day there talking to people about how easy it is to learn first aid with the Red Cross. We reach out to people who wouldn’t normally get the chance to learn these skills. When I ask people what they would do in an emergency they often say they wouldn’t do anything because they may have an aversion to blood, for example. But when I say, ‘look, you’ve got a little baby, if they were choking, would you do something’ they say,’ yes, I’d slap them on the back’. I’d encourage them to learn a bit more by taking part in a Red Cross first aid training course. The information and procedures they’d be taught really can be life-saving.”

Alex says she enjoys being part of the Red Cross because its principles of independence and neutrality allow it to access groups of people, like young offenders and the travelling community, who often feel excluded from society. She says: “If you look at young offenders they often have low self esteem and to go to them and offer them first aid training gives them a boost. It’s remarkable what happens to young people and older people too when they gain skills and are recognised for having gained them.”

The double-decker bus, complete with on board charity shop and volunteering centre, is calling at Bedford Square, Exeter, between 10am – 4.30pm on June 14.

On board there will be competitions, first aid demonstrations, information and local Red Cross volunteers who will reveal how easy it is to help - and what they get out of the experience.

Four of the main services provided by the Red Cross in Devon - emergency response, first aid, health and social care and retail will be highlighted on the bus and there will be opportunities to sign up for any of them.

Sarah Gibson, operations director for the Red Cross in Devon, says: “Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Red Cross and they are lifelines to the hundreds of thousands of people they help. We have 777 volunteers in Devon and the moment and we want to give even more people in the county the opportunity to share that experience.”

To find out more come along to the bus at Bedford Square, Exeter, EX1 1EU, between 10am – 4.30pm on June 14.

ENDS

Notes to editors

You are invited to send a reporter and/or photographer to Bedford Square, Exeter, EX1 1EU, between 10am – 4.30pm on June 14. Please call Sam Whitwham on 0117 3012608 for more info beforehand and Rebecca on 07525 128297 on the day.

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: BRC_WandW

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