Our policy calls

The British Red Cross is calling on all parties to back policies that support people in crisis.

We have published our priorities for the coming year and set out the policies we want the next government to adopt, whatever the outcome of the election.

The calls - on issues spanning emergency response, first aid, international humanitarianism, refugees and asylum, anti-trafficking, tackling loneliness, and health and social care - are designed to improve the lives of people in the UK and across the world. 

Download our policy calls

Naomi Phillips, our director of policy and advocacy said:

In line with our commitment to supporting people in crisis, we advocate for changes to public policy and practice that could make all the difference to the lives of the vulnerable people we work with. 

Our recommendations are drawn from our wide range of operational experience, bearing witness to what we see and who we speak to through our services, as well as wider research. All are underpinned by evidence and our determination to ensure that people in crisis get the best possible response.

We look forward to working with the next government and Parliament to realise our vision for change.

The calls include the following:

Emergency response

In 2018, the British Red Cross responded to 1,400 emergencies in the UK – equal to one every four hours. We provide emotional and practical support to people impacted by crises ranging from house fires, extreme weather and terror attacks.

We are calling on the government to amend the Civil Contingencies Act, Regulations and Guidance to create a clearer role for the voluntary sector and ensure our skills are meaningfully included in local emergency planning.

We believe the government should appoint a minister as the strategic lead for emergencies, with specific responsibilities for emergency preparedness, response and recovery. 

Red Cross volunteer with buckets.

International humanitarian policy

Globally, there continues to be positive, development gains in poverty reduction, epidemic control, access to education, and child mortality. Yet against this backdrop, protracted conflict and climate related disasters are causing a reversal of these hard-won gains.

Our policy calls include that humanitarian financing should focus on preventing and responding to sexual and gender based violence; a move towards cash transfers as a means of delivering aid; and that we use data-driven forecasting to preposition resources and target the most vulnerable.

Refugees and asylum 

The British Red Cross is the largest independent provider of support and advice to refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. 

We believe that people should have access to safe and legal means to claim asylum and are treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.

We urge for an expansion of UK family reunion rules to give refugees the right to sponsor their family to join them in the UK and ensure families are kept together.

Human trafficking

The trauma survivors of human trafficking and exploitation experience can have lasting impacts on their mental and physical health, wellbeing, and ability to rebuild their lives. Yet, at present, being recognised as a survivor does not come with an entitlement to further specialist support, which would help people to properly recover. 

We are calling for the provision of long-term, needs-led support to recognised survivors of human trafficking. As a minimum this should comprise one-to-one support delivered by specialist staff for 12 months.

Three people eating cake at a festive party for volunteers and service users.

Health and social care 

Our staff and volunteers work in people’s homes and in hospitals across the country. We provide ambulance support, transport patients to and from hospital and help tens of thousands older and vulnerable people to live independently at home each year. This gives us unique insight into every stage of a patient’s journey, from home to hospital and back again. Every year, we help more than 90,000 people through our support at home services and support 75,000 people to access a short-term mobility aids.

Our calls include resourcing non-clinical support and partnerships with the voluntary and community sector to effectively relieve pressures on the NHS and to address the underlying causes of poor health. We also call for the introduction of a statutory duty for short-term provision of mobility aids.

Tackling loneliness

Since 2017, our Connecting Communities service has supported more than 10,500 people throughout the UK who are experiencing or at risk of loneliness.

Our calls include a renewal of government commitments to tackling loneliness, backed by clear plans and funding for sustaining action.

First aid 

In 2018 the British Red Cross educated 104,245 young people in first aid through 5,054 face-to-face sessions of our crisis education workshops. Many more learned first aid through our free online teaching which has been viewed more than 950,000 times online. 

Thanks to work from the British Red Cross and partner charities, 2020 will see all primary and secondary school children in England taught basic first aid as part of the national curriculum. 

We would like to see Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland endorse first aid education as a nationally set statutory requirement for all schools across age groups.

Download our policy calls