13 August 2009
Do you have a flu friend? Across the UK, our volunteers are supporting those with no family or friends on hand to help – but it’s always best to have someone you know ready to step in.
From Cornwall to Cumbria, Red Cross volunteers are acting as 'flu friends' by taking round medication to poorly, housebound people who have been diagnosed with swine flu – but don't have anyone living close by to help.
For most people, though, finding a flu friend is as simple as having a quick word with a family member, friend or neighbour. Once you’ve agreed to help each other, you and your flu friend can be reassured that – should swine flu strike – you’ll have someone close by who can drop off medication and groceries.
Throughout the country, volunteers are helping swine flu patients who have found themselves in difficulty for all kinds of reasons. For example, Muriel Quantrill (75), who is volunteering at an NHS flu friends call centre in Bristol, said: “Some of those calling for help have only just moved to the area and so haven’t built up social networks yet.”
In Bath, volunteer Jenny Beard (47) is delivering Tamiflu to people who have been diagnosed through the National Pandemic Flu Service.
Spreading the virus
She said: “There’s an important message here that people should understand: having a flu friend means that, should you be taken ill and need help in the future, you won't have to leave your home and run the risk of spreading the virus.”
Dr Kieran Morgan, director of public health, is grateful that Red Cross volunteers are helping deal with the swine flu pandemic in Bath and the surrounding area. He said: “It’s very reassuring and comforting to know that our community is served with such dedicated and professional people.”
Find out what to do if you think you have swine flu
Visit the Department of Health’s website
Learn how to be prepared for swine flu
Get some top hygiene tips from our Red Cross blog
Learn about first aid