The British Red Cross welcomed Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West, to their offices in Reading on Friday 15th December.
Mr Sharma met with staff and volunteers from the charity to learn more about their important work supporting vulnerable people across Reading and the surrounding areas.
Volunteers from the Red Cross emergency response team explained to Mr Sharma how they work in partnership with the fire service, police and local authorities to assist people affected by house fires, floods, or other emergencies. Mr Sharma spent time looking around a specialised emergency response vehicle used by the team and asking the volunteers about their role.
Volunteer Phil Olser explained the purpose of the vehicle to Mr Sharma: “We take the vehicle along to emergencies such as house fires to offer a quiet, comfortable place for those affected. We can take them on-board away from the fire and make them a hot drink or give them a change of clothes if they need them. Often we respond to calls in the middle of the night so people may still be in their nightclothes. There is a toilet and shower on the vehicle and we can provide hygiene packs. We also keep soft toys for children and have a supply of items for pets, including a goldfish bowl.”
Mr Sharma also met with representatives from the charity’s refugee services team who help refugees and asylum seekers in the town access essential orientation services, destitution support and adapt to life in a new country.
He also learned more about the charity’s hospital and community-based support services that aims to prevent people in Berkshire falling into a health and social care crisis; and how the Red Cross are working to tackle the issue of loneliness in Reading thanks to a nationwide partnership with the Co-op.
Alok Sharma said: “It was an absolute pleasure to meet with the local Red Cross volunteers who do so much for our local community. They are selfless individuals and my heartfelt thanks to them for all they did in supporting the community in London at the time of the awful fire tragedy at Grenfell tower.”
Abbee Robinson, emergency response officer at the Red Cross, who organised the visit, said: “We were all very pleased to welcome Mr Sharma to our offices. He showed great interest in all aspects of our work to help people in crisis in Berkshire.”
For more information about the work of the Red Cross, please visit www.redcross.org.uk.
Photo: Alok Sharma MP (centre) with British Red Cross staff and volunteers from the charity’s Emergency Response team.