accessibility & help

Historical factsheets

Find out more about the tremendous role our volunteers and staff have played throughout history.

Our origins
Emergency response
Health and social care
Volunteering and personalities

Our origins

Founding of the British Red Cross
Find out about how we began in 1870.

Our Royal Charter
Find out more about our Royal Charter, which was granted in 1908.

Founding of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation was founded in 1919. Find out more about its origins.


The Battle of Solferino
Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross Movement, came up with the idea of national relief organisations when he saw the aftermath of this horrific battle.

The Boer wars
Find out how the British Red Cross helped wounded soldiers during the second Boer war in South Africa, including by providing the first purpose-built hospital train.

Auxiliary hospitals during the wars 
Find out about the auxiliary hospitals we provided for wounded and ill soldiers during the First and Second World Wars.

First World War gallery
View a selection of photographs illustrating our work in the First World War. 

The Second World War  
Read more about how the Red Cross supported civilians, the sick and wounded, and prisoners of war at home and abroad.

Second World War photo gallery 

See a selection of photographs illustrating our work in the Second World War. 

Our work in the Blitz
When the Blitz began on 7 September 1940, our volunteers rushed to treat wounded civilians and comfort those who'd lost everything.

The Changi quilts
Read the moving story of civilians interned in Singapore during the Second World War, and the personal record women internees left on the quilts they made.

Channel Islands relief in the Second World War
When Germany occupied the Channel Islands during the Second World War, islanders relied on the Red Cross for food and communciations with the UK.

Food parcels
Discover how volunteers organised 20 million food parcels sent from the UK to prisoners of war during the Second World War.

Emergency response

Emergency response photo gallery
See pictures of how we have responded to significant emergencies in the UK, from floods to rail crashes.

Emergency transport
Find out about the development of our different types of transport, from the first motorised ambulances to hospital trains and ships.

Health and social care

Interwar photo gallery
See a selection of photographs illustrating our health and social care work in the years between the world wars.

Blood transfusion
Percy Lane Oliver, one of the Red Cross' volunteers, started Britain's first blood donor panel in 1921.

Spanish influenza
The Spanish flu pandemic, which hit Europe in 1918-1919, changed our work forever. Find out how.

Health and social care services in the UK
Learn about our welfare and UK services after the National Health Service was established.

Hospitals and nursing
Read about the hospitals and special homes the Red Cross ran after the establishment of the National Health Service.

Refugee services
Find out how the Red Cross has been helping protect and support refugees in the UK and abroad for over a century.

Volunteering and personalities

Junior Red Cross
Read about the juniors' section of the British Red Cross, which officially began in 1924.

Florence Nightingale
This famous nurse was an active supporter of the British Red Cross from its founding. Read about how her work inspired the founder of the Red Cross Movement, Henry Dunant.

Royal family Red Cross supporters
The royal family has been involved with the Red Cross from our founding. Find out how.

Can't find what you're looking for? Get in touch.