accessibility & help

Volunteers help people cope in big freeze

8 January 2010

Red Cross Land Rover in deep snow© InfoSub-zero temperatures across the UK plummeted again today – leaving hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people in desperate need of support from Red Cross volunteers.

As the Met Office recorded the winter's coldest day yet, Red Cross teams have been working round the clock to support ambulance services and ensure that vulnerable residents are safe and well.

Throughout East Anglia, care in the home volunteers have visited more than 500 vulnerable people in their homes to check on their welfare as temperatures have plummeted to below freezing.  

Friendly visit

In Ipswich, one volunteer called on a 74-year-old man only to discover he was suffering from hypothermia. While the pensioner was taken to hospital, the Red Cross contacted a social worker and care assistant and arranged for hot meals to be delivered to his door daily.  

Care in the home volunteer chats with older manLayton ThompsonIn the Kings Lynn area, those visited included a terminally ill woman and another lady who had just recently been bereaved. Both were understandably very pleased to receive a friendly visit from someone who could offer friendly support and useful advice on how to stay warm.

Volunteers also came across another elderly man who had only recently been discharged from hospital and was feeling very depressed. His family – who live some distance away – were also worried he was not eating properly. A volunteer arranged for hot meals to be delivered then made another visit – and found the man well-fed and much more positive and happy.  

Treacherous conditions

It’s a similar story in the Midlands, where scores of volunteers have been braving the sub-zero temperatures and icy conditions to help those trapped in their homes. In one case, volunteers – equipped with a 4x4 emergency vehicle – fought their way through treacherous conditions to reach a 91-year-old woman in a particularly isolated Warwickshire village.

In the week since the snow began, volunteers and staff have clocked up more than 60 hours of duties supporting West Midlands Ambulance Service and responding to 999 calls.

Across the country

As people continue to struggle with the plunging temperatures and icy conditions, British Red Cross emergency teams have been responding all week across the UK – including Wales, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Devon and Cornwall.

In Nottinghamshire, for example, volunteers used their Land Rover 4x4 vehicles to help carers reach vulnerable people through heavy snow. And in Peterborough, the Red Cross has been handing out emergency foil blankets to destitute refugees and homeless people who have been put at risk by the freezing weather conditions.

More on our response in the North

Read about our response in Northern Scotland

First aid tips for the severe weather

Diary of an emergency responder

Read our young volunteer's snow-response blog