THE Red Cross is well recognised as the biggest humanitarian organisation in the world – playing a crucial part in bringing aid to countries in need.
But the charity plays a big role closer to home, offering a wealth of health and social care to carers and patients.
“The main service we offer is the home from hospital service,” said Barbara MacWhirter, Chichester Red Cross health and social care co-ordinator.
“It gives informal carers just that little bit of help they might need when someone they are caring for comes out of hospital.
“We can help with the small things like looking after them while the carer needs a bit of a break, or helping with the shopping,” said Barbara.
Red Cross volunteers can help people settle back to a normal routine, collecting prescriptions, cooking and providing a bit of company.
“We want to help people build confidence. Our volunteers will take people out shopping or to the garden centre,” said Barbara.
“We had one lady who had completely lost her confidence. Our volunteer took her to the local church. Now she is going every month and really enjoys the meetings.”
After more than three years in the job, Barbara said it was still ‘lovely’ to hear about the positive impact the Red Cross has on the local community.
“We had another example where one woman had an operation and her husband was struggling a little bit. It can be a big relief to the partner to have someone giving them a hand.”
One woman wrote to the Chichester branch of the Red Cross, thanking a volunteer from the home-from-hospital service.
“When my husband came out of hospital last March, I contacted your service and was most grateful for the help that you gave me. It allowed me to get my bearings, and come round from the tremendous change in my life.
“I felt she was a true friend in need. We have now moved back to our old home in South London and I would like to thank her for her support and friendship and help and to let her know how we are getting on.”
Another woman contacted the Red Cross to thank the organisation for the help she received during her post-operation recovery.
“It was splendid in all respects and you were very patient while I did the shopping. Many thanks for organising everything.”
Another said the time spent with one of the volunteers had been ‘so beneficial’. She said the volunteer had boosted her confidence with walking and gradually getting back to her usual routine.
“You help the community in so many different way and I would not hesitate to recommend your help to family and friends.”
The organisation can also offer practical solutions for people who might be stuck at home. A special service loans out medical equipment for people with mobility problems.
“Having the right equipment can completely change people’s lives,” said Barbara. “It prevents people from becoming isolated – or those waiting for long-term equipment from health or social services.”
The service loans includes wheelchairs, bed cradles and back rests.
Barbara said the organisation was always looking for volunteers.Call 0800 028 0831 to find out about volunteering opportunities.