Renowned photographer Rankin has captured the extraordinary kindness shown by British Red Cross volunteers who helped in last year’s emergencies in London and Manchester. (1)
The UK terror attacks and Grenfell Tower fire caused significant loss of life, and led to one of the largest humanitarian responses by the British Red Cross here in the UK since World War Two.
In a unique photoshoot with Rankin released ahead of Red Cross Week (6-12 May), the charity paid tribute to some of the remarkable acts of kindness shown by volunteers who helped in these times of crisis.
In the aftermath of the UK terror attacks and Grenfell Tower fire last summer, over 1,000 British Red Cross volunteers worked alongside the emergency services and in solidarity with the local community. They provided first aid at the scene; gave emotional and practical support at rest centres; helped people who were bereaved or searching for missing loved ones at friends and family centres; managed a 24-hour support line; and sorted through 200 tons of items generously donated by the British public.
The charity also launched three major fundraising appeals within a month and organised the One Love Manchester benefit concert in collaboration with superstar singer Ariana Grande, raising over £28million in total for victims.
The characterful photos and video interviews form part of The Power of Kindness campaign with The Full Service. The images are being released ahead of Red Cross Week, when thousands of people across the UK and beyond will be carrying out their own small acts of kindness in their community.
Zoë Abrams, Executive Director at the British Red Cross, said: “The horrific events in Manchester and London last summer were truly shocking for our nation. But even during these most terrible of times we also saw the extraordinary power of human kindness as the country came together to help in any way they could. In the wake of these devastating incidents, ordinary Brits were moved to give not only to donate money or goods, but also to share their time and their talents to help those affected by these emergencies.
“For the British Red Cross, last year was unprecedented in our peacetime history in the UK. In the space of just a few weeks we deployed more than 1,000 volunteers from all four corners of our nation to help those affected and show their solidarity alongside the emergency services and local community. It is through the incredible kindness and compassion of volunteers like these that we are able to continue supporting people whenever and wherever crises happen.”
Laszlo Kelemen, 33, an intensive care practitioner from London, has been a Red Cross volunteer since he was 15, starting in his home country of Romania, before joining the British Red Cross two years ago. He was part of the charity’s response to the London Bridge attack, Grenfell Tower Fire and Finsbury Park attack, providing psychosocial support to those affected.
Laszlo said: “The Red Cross is part of who I am. Like many other people who live in London, and across the UK, I couldn’t believe the horrific series of incidents that unfolded last year. Before last summer I felt like someone who just lived in London but now I feel that I’m part of this city because I was able to help. I’ve experienced its very worst but also its best.
“When the devastation happened last year communities across London united. That’s the real feeling of London, and being able to help as part of the British Red Cross was the proudest moment of my life.”
Julia, 51, from Warrington, Cheshire has been a volunteer with the British Red Cross for over eight years. Following the Manchester Arena attack Julia was deployed to Oldham hospital, to provide a quiet space for hospital staff who needed respite. She also provided emotional support to people at the memorial that took place in memory of the victims in the city centre.
In June Julia then travelled to London to support the families who had been affected by the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.
Julia said: “I first heard about the Manchester Arena attack whilst I was watching TV. When something terrible like that happens, especially when it’s so close to home, you just want to do anything you can to help.
“The events of last year have had a lasting impact on me. But as a volunteer for the British Red Cross we’re privileged to be able to help people when they need it most, and support them through emergencies like these.”
Photographer Rankin said: “Like everyone I was horrified by the incidents that happened last summer and the terrible loss of life it caused. The power of community really shone through, and the people in these images worked day and night alongside the emergency services, helping people cope with what happened. Their incredible compassion and support made a difference to so many people in their darkest hour.”
The British Red Cross is the movement that connects human kindness with human crisis.
For more information visit www.redcross.org.uk/kindness #powerofkindness