WHO ARE THE BRITISH RED CROSS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
The British Red Cross exists to help anyone, anywhere in the UK and around the world to get the support
they need if crisis strikes. They provide the people, equipment, space and resources to support
individuals, families and local communities affected by an emergency to recover.
They assist victims of armed conflicts, working for the improvement of health, for the prevention of
disease and for the prevention and alleviation of human suffering in the British Islands and throughout
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
COVID-19 has had wide-reaching effects on those who have fled persecution or conflict and sought
sanctuary here in the UK. Many have been separated from loved ones and become isolated, without
access to a support network of family and people they can trust. They can face barriers to accessing
housing, employment and public services due to language difficulties and a lack of information and
understanding about their basic rights. Many of the people The British Red Cross supports in this situation
are struggling to meet their basic needs, living in destitution and at risk of homelessness, exploitation and
In these unprecedented times, relationships with individuals relying on community members or friends
can become strained and break down. And at a time when Government advice is to stay at home, many
are facing homelessness and some have complex health conditions that require them to remain in
The Red Cross Refugee Service works to relieve the effects of destitution, giving people information about
their rights and helping them access support. This service is usually deliver this face-to-face, through dropins
or appointments, with practical support helping to meet basic needs, including food parcels, clothing
and small amounts of emergency cash.
At the onset of the crisis all offices had to be closed and all face-to-face appointments cancelled. The
outbreak intensified existing difficulties - those vulnerable became more at risk of serious complications
should they catch the virus, and existing problems such as social isolation or destitution becoming all the
WHAT DIFFERENCE DID THE APPEAL AWARD MAKE?
As a direct result of award funding, The British Red Cross were able to afford cards pre-loaded with £30
cash to give to individuals and families in Milton Keynes. With the issuing of food parcels and hygiene
products at drop-in locations no longer possible, these cards have enabled the organisation to support
their most vulnerable clients and their families through this difficult period.
Recipients now have sufficient funds to ensure they don't go hungry and are be able to purchase essential
items. These can include toilet roll, hygiene products such as sanitary towels and also baby formula, given
that some of the families supported have young children.
“I lost my job during the first few weeks of the pandemic. I have legal status in UK and permission to work, but No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). All of a sudden I was desperate, with no work I had no way of being able to pay my rent and meet my basic needs. Now because of the support received by Milton Keynes Community Foundation, I have been able to buy essential items and food. It’s a small amount of money, but receiving it every week has made a huge difference. I felt alone, but it reminded me that people care, it gave me hope”
John Douglas is a Refugee Support and Crisis Response volunteer- delivering support to some of our most