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British Red Cross assist British travellers in Calais and Madrid

21 April 2010
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Penny Sims

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Two British Red Cross psycho-social support teams are on their way to help Britons trying to get home from Calais and Madrid. The two teams were deployed last night (20 April) to provide practical help and emotional support to Britons affected by the travel disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

The British Red Cross staff are being sent as part of the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) Rapid Deployment Teams. June Rudman and Ola Rzepczynska from the Red Cross emergency planning team in London will be based in Madrid. Emergency response worker Janette Wilson-North from Norfolk and Debi Hanley, a psychotherapy and stress management specialist from Norwich, will be working in Calais.

 Martin Annis, head of British Red Cross emergency planning, said:  

"Our psycho-social teams will be there to give help and advice to people who are trying to make their way home, and to offer them emotional support too. Sometimes things like not being able to pass messages to family back home or deal with practicalities can be distressing in a situation like this, and that is the kind of assistance our teams can give.”

In accordance with its role as an auxiliary to the public authorities in the humanitarian field, the British Red Cross team are responding at the request of the FCO, which is responsible for providing consular assistance to Britons overseas.

The British Red Cross has trained volunteers on standby to offer practical help and emotional support to people affected by tragedies overseas.

In previous deployments, support staff have assisted Britons following Haiti’s earthquake and the terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.


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.