10 June 2011
After taking in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Big Red Cross Bus is now touring England to highlight great volunteering opportunities.
The Big Red Cross Bus – a travelling volunteer information centre cunningly squeezed into a double decker bus – is visiting 18 locations across the UK. Over 230 people have hopped aboard so far.
The bus started its tour in the Highlands, where Inverness residents and holidaymakers braved wet weather to browse the onboard charity shop. Among the visitors was a family of four from Austria who volunteer with the Red Cross in their homeland.
Volunteering in a difficult economy
Dumfries MP Russell Brown – shadow minister for defence – was an early visitor when the bus rolled in to his town.
He said: “The Big Red Cross Bus is a great way to promote volunteering. We are living in difficult economic times and many people are finding themselves unemployed after 30 or 40 years in work. Many look for something meaningful to do and volunteering can offer them a lot.
“For those seeking to return to work and finding it difficult, volunteering can be an opportunity to learn new skills – and it can enhance a CV.”
To underline his point, Russell signed up for a couple of hours of voluntary work in the Dumfries Red Cross charity shop.
Showcasing rewarding volunteer roles
Volunteer first aid trainers, therapeutic care volunteers and charity shop volunteers have been highlighting their work, passing on tips, and talking about the many rewards of volunteering.
One of the bus’ visitors, Catherine Snow of Trumpington, works part time as a companion to the disabled and elderly and is a mother, but was interested in using her spare time to volunteer. She said: “It’s great to learn more about opportunities to volunteer in Cambridge, and I’ll pass the information on to my 18-year-old daughter. I’ve volunteered in the past because I love working with people – there’s nothing more rewarding than being there for others. Just a smile, handshake or greeting can make someone’s day.
“I’ll be following up with the Red Cross to get more involved in their work.”
Learning life-saving skills
Besides learning about ways to help out their local communities, the bus’ visitors have enjoyed the volunteers’ first aid demonstrations.
Amy-Louise Hutchinson visited with her one-year-old son James. She said: “James choked on his dummy a couple of months ago and I was so scared – I really panicked. Luckily I managed to dislodge the dummy by hitting him on the back but it made me realise I needed to take a first aid course. I’ve found the tips today very useful and I think I’ll be able to keep calm if anything like this happens to James again.”
Volunteer for the Red Cross
Learn first aid
Shop with the Red Cross