Has the pandemic changed Mancunians’ attitude to asking for help?

'If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes asking for help is the bravest thing you can do' says the British Red Cross
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Nearly half (48%) of people in Manchester say they will be kinder for years to come after living through the pandemic, new research from the British Red Cross has shown.

One third (35%) say they find it easier to reach out when they are struggling, and more than half (51%) of those polled said they will be more considerate of lonely people and those in need this festive period.

However, as the pandemic continues into the challenging winter months, more than half of people (55%) who anticipate needing support said they wouldn’t know where to turn.

And with 29% of people feeling ‘powerless’ in the face of ongoing lockdowns, reaching out to others for help will make a huge difference in the months ahead. 

For 150 years, the British Red Cross has been supporting people through the darkest times – and the coronavirus in no exception.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the British Red Cross has reached over 1.5 million people with food and medicine packages, transport to and from hospital, emotional support, and a range of other practical help and advice.

 The charity’s staff and volunteers have provided over 110,000 hours of support to our NHS and communities, from distributing COVID testing kits to delivering temperate tests and providing food for hospital staff.

Ada Runnalls, 90, from Manchester, had help from the Red Cross after her son, Rodney, who lives in Birmingham, got a call from a worried neighbour at the start of the first national lockdown.

Before lockdown, Ada, pictured, had a full and active life, going on trips with friends and socialising at her deaf club.

But when the coronavirus restrictions came in, Ada’s world changed overnight.

“Before all of this I would go to the deaf club on Mondays, I loved it,” said Ada.

“That closed in March because of the lockdown and we were told to stay indoors. I felt completely trapped. I was so low and depressed.”

The isolation had a huge impact on her health. Her arthritis flared up and she became suicidal.

At her lowest point, Ada hadn’t eaten for days and felt like giving up on life.

Luckily, a concerned neighbour came to check on her and immediately called her son, Rodney, who drove all the way from Birmingham and took her straight to hospital.

After a short stay there, Rodney turned to the Red Cross for support.

This is how Ada met Natalie, a Red Cross frontline support worker at Trafford General Hospital. Natalie began visiting weekly helped Ada to rediscover her confidence.

“Before this year I was a strong woman but this year I’ve gone downhill,” said Ada.

“But I don’t feel low now because my doctor has given me some steroids for my arthritis and that helps lift my mood because I’m not in so much pain.

“The support from the Red Cross and Natalie has also helped me, knowing that she would be here each Tuesday and we would be able to go out and do our own thing absolutely gave me something to look forward to.”

Unfortunately, the second lockdown stopped Natalie’s visits, but they stay in touch through weekly FaceTimes.

Ada has now moved down to live with Rodney in Birmingham and is looking forward to a small family Christmas.

“No one could have anticipated COVID-19, or the disruption to our lives that has come with it,” said Zoë Abrams, Executive Director at the British Red Cross.

“But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes asking for help is the bravest thing you can do.

“Throughout the pandemic, the British Red Cross has been there for people in their most difficult moments. People have turned to us who have never asked for help before – but who suddenly find themselves needing food or medicine, or a lift home from hospital.

“This winter you can get supplies to someone who is isolating, give relief to someone who is lonely and get someone home from hospital in time for Christmas.

“But you don’t always have to be there yourself to make a difference.

“By donating to the British Red Cross, you can put the power of kindness into action and make sure we’re there to support the most vulnerable people this winter.”

You can find out more and donate here.

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