12 January 2016
The British Red Cross in Gloucestershire is looking for volunteers to support people affected by emergencies like house fires and flooding.
Red Cross emergency response volunteers work alongside the emergency services to provide vital assistance to people in crisis, when they need it most.
Whether reassuring someone after a house fire or organising food for a flooded community, the role is varied, challenging and exciting and a commitment of just a few hours each week can make a huge difference to someone in crisis.
Two Red Cross volunteers from Gloucester, student Chris Brown, 19, and charity worker Jan Foreman, 56, explain why they love volunteering and want to inspire others to join them.
The charity is looking for volunteers who live throughout Gloucestershire, particularly people with free time during the day.
Chris, who is originally from Bath but is studying sports coaching and development at the University of Gloucestershire, has been a volunteer since August 2014 and thoroughly enjoys it.
He says: “When you start you go on a three-day training course which equips you for the role you’re going to carry out as a volunteer. We learn to help people to manage their emotions, give them guidance on the options they have and the practical steps they could take. Most importantly we’re there for them if they’re upset.”
And as well as the satisfaction of helping someone in crisis, Chris also enjoys the teamwork involved. “I’m giving up some of my free time to help someone who desperately needs it whilst working in an amazing team of volunteers,” he says. “Our team has plumbers, electricians, managing directors - everyone you can imagine. There’s no hierarchy. Everyone’s equal.”
Jan, 56, who works for a homelessness charity, signed up as a volunteer when she dropped down to part-time working and wanted to do something with her spare time. Her enthusiasm is catching and she inspired husband Nigel to sign up too.
She says: “It really grabbed me. It was the idea of helping others that appealed. If there’s a fire you may be in the horrible situation of losing your home. I’m a very focussed, positive person and I like the idea of seeing people through to the next step they need to take.”
Jan, too, did the initial three-day training course, learning skills she would need for emergency response, but which are also useful for challenging situations we all face in life.
She says: “I really enjoyed the training, particularly the parts about providing emotional support. It was really good to have three days where you really focussed on the role you would be doing. I’m proud to be part of the Red Cross. If someone’s in distress and I can go and do a small thing to help, I will.”
Red Cross emergency response volunteers need to live in Gloucestershire and commit to being part of a 24/7 on call rota. Volunteering is flexible and can fit around lots of different types of working patterns or personal commitments and be tailored to how much time you have to give. The Red Cross is particularly keen to hear from people with free time during the day. For more information call Joanne Riches on 01793 859933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you would like to find out more or arrange an interview please contact Rebecca Gilbert on 0117 3012624.