21 January 2013
As many areas of the country struggle with heavy snowfall, our volunteers have been working round the clock to support the most vulnerable people.
Several rural areas in Wales have been completely cut off by the bad weather, meaning nurses, GPs and support staff were left unable to reach their patients – some of whom are seriously ill.
Thirty-five emergency response volunteers – equipped with Land Rover 4x4 vehicles – spent the weekend battling through extreme conditions so staff could get to the three main hospitals in north Wales. Altogether, they transported 90 people.
The Red Cross’ care in the home service has also been making sure that vulnerable residents stranded in their homes aren’t forgotten – and good preparation has been key in the response.
Last week, before the bad weather even arrived, volunteers and staff visited their most vulnerable beneficiaries. They helped with topping up gas and electricity cards, and brought in food supplies to last through the cold snap.
The care in the home teams – which help around 1,000 people each year across north Wales – have also been making daily phone checks on around 80 of the most vulnerable beneficiaries.
Across the UK, the Red Cross has also been working to homeless people caught up in the freezing conditions.
In Wrexham, volunteers donated 50 Red Cross blankets to a soup kitchen. And in Ipswich, volunteers ferried local church volunteers to seven churches that were being used as cold weather night shelters.
The Rev Canon Paul Daltry told BBC News: "This means we can guarantee that the night shelters will run for the homeless in Ipswich just when they’re most needed."
At Claudy in Northern Ireland, emergency response volunteers enabled district nurse Alicia Brolly to visit eight patients at the weekend.
She recalled: “I live in a rural area and the snow was really bad, so there was no way I could have got in to work otherwise.
“I was really grateful to the Red Cross volunteers – I just wouldn’t have been able to do my calls without them.”
In Nottingham, emergency teams have been tackling fierce weather to visit beneficiaries in hard to reach areas – helping with simple meals and general support.
Volunteers have also been transporting district nurses so they can make vital home calls to patients, both in Mansfield and Newark and throughout Yorkshire.
In Cheshire, the Red Cross used 4x4 vehicles to transfer patients from Warrington Hospital, and volunteers at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary have been taking discharged patients home.
How to prepare for severe winter weather