Winter is here - but so is the Red Cross and Red Crescent

Winter brings extra challenges for people already living in crisis. Here's how we're supporting those who need us, at home and overseas.

Together, we're the world's emergency responders

A few weeks into 2024, and the UK has already been battered by Storm Henk and widespread flooding. Communities have been evacuated and homes damaged.

It follows a year of global devastation on an unprecedented scale. Conflict in Ukraine, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territory, earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, Afghanistan and Morocco - and powerful storms in the UK - have left millions in urgent and ongoing need.

Now, people are facing the added challenges that winter brings.

People living in the shadow of conflict will see nights get darker as supplies run out. Those who have lost their homes in earthquakes face plunging temperatures. And those living here in the UK may wake to more flooding and chaos.

But the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is here to help.

Help us leave nobody out in the cold

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is working in the UK and around the world, to bring warmth this winter and beyond.

Our National Societies and local volunteers work alongside resilient people and communities as they rebuild and recover from disasters. Volunteers like Bob, who supported people through Storm Arwen in Scotland.

He says: "I went to an 82-year-old lady. She hadn't had a hot drink for three days. When strangers come in with a friendly face, it just means someone cares.

She just wanted someone to talk to, a bit of company. She was happy by the time we left for the next job.

Winter in conflict zones

In Gaza, where 1.9 million people have been forced to leave their homes, winter has arrived.

January is on average the coldest and wettest month, and hundreds of thousands are in makeshift shelters, in cars, or out in the open. Many are resorting to cardboard boxes to protect against the elements.

People here lack blankets, warm clothes, and access to food, clean drinking water, and proper sanitation. Fuel has run out, and hypothermia is a real threat.

It’s a critical time. Winter makes things harder in every emergency. But the Palestine Red Crescent Society has been supporting people from day one.

Rooted in the community, they have provided first aid, shelter, food parcels, milk, blankets, mattresses, water as well as baby items, to nearly 400,000 people.

In Ukraine, countless homes, businesses and buildings have been destroyed by the ongoing conflict. People are living in crowded shelters like nurseries and university halls – and damage to energy infrastructure could leave them without power or electricity, exposing them to freezing temperatures.

Heavy snowfall makes it harder for teams to reach remote rural areas with critical aid. In preparation, Ukrainian Red Cross responders have been distributing blankets, sleeping bags, hygiene kits and food parcels, as well as helping people to stay warm with mobile heaters.

Health units and carers are also visiting people who aren’t able to travel, making sure they have the healthcare they need. 

Deadly earthquakes have left hundreds of thousands of people exposed

Last year saw a number of deadly earthquakes devastate communities around the globe.

In Morocco, where the September 2023 earthquake left communities without shelter, freezing weather has enveloped the Atlas Mountains. Moroccan Red Crescent responders are providing blankets, clothing, and warm places to stay, as well as access to suitable hygiene for the longer term. 

In Türkiye and Syria, survivors are still grappling with the devastating repercussions of the February earthquakes.

Turkish Red Crescent and Syrian Arab Red Crescent teams are working with communities on winter preparations and long-term recovery, from reinforcing and waterproofing to insulating shelters.

Millions of relief items including blankets, baby items, and kitchen sets have been distributed, as well as support for the colder months including hot meals, winter kits, and cash so people have the power to buy what they need.

Winter storms bring long-lasting hardship 

In the UK, winter brings a heightened risk of flooding and other extreme weather events. As seen with Storm Babet, Storm Ciaran and Storm Henk, repairing the damage may run up a bill of thousands of pounds, but the full cost is impossible to measure.

Sentimental belongings cannot be replaced, and homes can be ruined, bringing another layer of emotional suffering.

The British Red Cross shares guidance to help people prepare and supports evacuations if the floodwaters do arrive. If the power goes out, teams conduct door-to-door checks, and longer-term psychosocial support is also there to help people cope with what has happened.

We're here to bring warmth this winter and beyond

There is hope. While this is set to be one of the hardest seasons for many, our local national societies and volunteers on the ground will be working with resilient communities as they rebuild and recover. 

We'll be reaching people in crisis here in the UK, and around the world - during winter and beyond.

Here for humanity this winter

In the UK and around the world, we're protecting vulnerable communities from the biting effects of winter. If you can, please support our vital work.