Volunteers Video story

‘A group of strangers moved by the same feeling’

Just like Angela, hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world have joined Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies during the Covid-19 response.

As Covid-19 cases began rising sharply again in many European cities this fall, memories from the first lockdown in Italy back in April came flooding back and, for many, it felt like a step back in time.

Despite the hardship and frustration of new lockdowns, there was also a rekindled feeling of solidarity.  Many of the people who decided to volunteer on a temporary basis during the first wave of Covid-19 have since gone on to make a long-term commitment to volunteering.

This is the story of one of those volunteers: Angela, now officially a permanent member of the Italian Red Cross volunteer corps.

“The desire to be a volunteer had been with me for some time”, says Angela, who began her voluntary service by delivering food and medicine in March this year as her home down of Florence went into its first lockdown. Many people who were under quarantine, self-isolated or were considered at high risk needed support to cope and fulfill their basic needs.

A year of courage and kindness

Angela’s story is not unique. The many hardships posed by the pandemic have sparked an unprecedented response, as millions of people around the world spontaneously reached out to help their neighbours and fellow citizens. This year, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide joined Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to support the response of Covid-19.

In Italy alone, the Red Cross received nearly 60,000 new sign-ups as part of its ‘Time of Kindness’ initiative, launched in March to assist vulnerable and isolated people with deliveries of food, medicine and essential items, as well as to provide transport to health facilities for a variety of medical needs.

Likewise, other Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the world have reported a significant upward trend in volunteer sign ups – proving that even in the darkest of times, there are incredible stories of people wanting to serve others.

“We are a team, a group of friends with different lives. We are total strangers, but we are moved by the same feeling.”
Angela Ratto
Italian Red Cross volunteer

Angela’s journey as a Red Cross volunteer started during the first wave of Covid-19 in Florence, Italy. A few months after signing up temporarily, she became a permanent volunteer.

More than a team, a family

For Angela, becoming a permanent volunteer offers a different but fulfilling experience. She is still delivering groceries to people in quarantine, but she has also taken on new activities, such as driving people – including those with disabilities who need special care — to doctor’s appointments or non-emergency hospital visits.

“I am really gaining a lot of experience”, she says. “I am much more involved than at the beginning…I’m lucky to be able to continue with my commitment to this job. This is thanks also to my family, which supports me along my journey”.

Now, after seven months on the job, she’s far more than just a solitary volunteer. She’s part of a team that is deeply committed to helping their fellow Florentines through the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are a team, a group of friends with different lives,” she says. “We are total strangers, but we are moved by the same feeling.”

Angela continues to deliver groceries and medicine to people that are under quarantine. But now she has many more responsibilities that have allowed her to gain a wider experience as a volunteer.


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‘Wildfire diaries’ and radical change in communications

In this episode, we talk with humanitarian communicator Kathy Mueller who produced our first magazine podcast series, The Wildfire Diaries, about massive wildfires in Northern Canada in 2017. We talk about that series, her many international missions, and the big changes in humanitarian communications since she began with the Canadian Red Cross almost 20 years ago.

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

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