We meet people every day who tackle loss, disaster and isolation with incredible courage and hopefulness.
Some of them have shared these inspiring experiences first-hand, using video cameras.
After all, behind every crisis or statistic is someone’s real story.
Kathy thought things would never get better.
She had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and kidney failure, and was slowly going blind.
Then British Red Cross volunteer Rebecca started paying weekly visits – and Kathy is now looking forward to things again.
MEET THE HARRANDS
Louise and Greg were on honeymoon on the idyllic Thai island of Ko Phi Phi, when the 2004 tsunami struck.
It was chaos.
Louise recalls: “People were running around screaming, ‘Water! Water! Get high up!’ We tried to climb a staircase at the side of the hotel, but there was a bottleneck. There was nothing we could do.
“When the first wave hit, I was immediately separated from Greg. I found myself caught deep under the water, surrounded by bodies, tables, fridges and debris. I remember thinking: ‘I’m going to die, there’s no way I can get out of this.’ But at the last possible moment, I came up.”
Louise survived with a fractured cheekbone, broken ribs and cuts across her face. She was finally reunited with her husband after a kind German tourist went into the streets, calling his name. The force of the water had stripped him naked and his feet were lacerated.
Greg and Louise later met the Red Cross at hospital.
Louise says: “The Red Cross gave us some basic provisions and a letter confirming we were British nationals, as we had lost everything, including our passports.
“Three days after the disaster, a Red Cross worker helped us get home, securing an ambulance to take us to the airport.
“With his help, we got on the next flight to the UK.”
Christine’s world was shattered when her son Andrew was diagnosed with the human form of mad cow disease. He was just 24 – and given six months to live.
At such a tragic time, Christine also found out that there were no wheelchairs available.
But the next day, the British Red Cross found Andrew a wheelchair. He now had the freedom to go outside and see his friends in his last few weeks.
As Sean crossed the finish line of the Great Scottish Run, he knew something wasn’t right.
In fact, he had suffered a cardiac arrest – aged just 29. As he lay on the ground in Glasgow, his heart and breathing stopped. There seemed little hope.
Luckily, two Red Cross first aid volunteers were close by to bring him back to life.
Using a defibrillator kit, they restarted his heart and Sean regained consciousness. “I felt as if I had been kicked and came to with a real jolt.”
As he recovered in hospital, Sean got a visit from David and Steven – the pair who had saved his life.
“I can’t thank these Red Cross guys enough. It just goes to show that people with the right training can be lifesavers.”
Nia saw how the Red Cross helped after the devastating tsunami in Thailand. Ever since, she’s been raising us life-saving money.
When her nan – a dedicated Red Cross volunteer – passed away, Nia took her fundraising to the next level by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
MEET THE TRIBBLES
Ten days before Christmas, a house fire left Susan and Robert homeless. All they could do was watch, as 30 years of memories went up in flames.
As firefighters tackled the blaze, the Red Cross gave the couple emotional support, and found them a place to stay.
“I was driving through Essex with my husband and two children, when we came across an accident. A woman had been hit by a car and was lying by the roadside.”
Apryl had taken a first aid course just a few months before driving past the car accident. She felt she had to pull over.
“I asked my husband to speak to the driver, who was obviously upset, then raced over to help. Fortunately, a passing doctor had also stopped and was treating the woman.”
It was immediately clear that the woman was badly injured. Apryl held her head and spoke softly, keeping her calm and still while the doctor checked for injuries. “She was bleeding quite heavily from a head wound. Previously, this might have frightened me, but I remembered the Red Cross trainer explaining that head wounds can bleed a lot.”
Fortunately, the paramedics arrived quickly. Meanwhile, Apryl continued to reassure the injured woman.
“Both the doctor and the paramedics thanked me for being so helpful. Later, I was relieved to hear the woman was in a stable condition.
“I’m sure I would have stopped to help even without my training, but having those skills meant I was much more confident and effective. I felt very calm – simply because I knew what to do.”
Ann was terrified of dentists. She hadn’t been to one for nearly 40 years. Living alone in constant pain, the neglect was starting to affect her heath. She’d given up.
That’s when Chris, a Red Cross support worker, began visiting weekly. He built up Ann’s confidence and gave her the encouragement she needed to finally leave her house – and visit a dentist.
All of these stories are different. Each crisis was a very personal one.
But when there’s an emergency, all we see is someone who needs our help.
Read more about our work in the UK and around the world by visiting redcross.org.uk