Cross : You’re launching your annual fundraiser from May 14-22. What does this group represent for the Red Cross?
Philip D’Costa: These national days represent a very important moment for the Red Cross because it is an opportunity for our volunteers to meet the public in the street. You should know that even if we receive subsidies, 42% of our union activities are made possible by the generosity of the public. In 2020, for example, we received €106 million in donations and bequests, a small portion of which comes from these fundraising days.
The peculiarity is that volunteers collect to fund the activities of their local unit. So every euro collected in a city goes to activities in that city.
→ Portrait. Felipe da Costa, an education enthusiast at the head of the Red Cross
For us, it is also an opportunity to communicate about the Red Cross. Because if the general public knew our relief activity, they would know less about everything we do on a daily basis.
What is the essence of your activities today?
CDP: We always apply the “Prevention/Education, Protection and Recovery” triad to all our activities: emergency, health, social work, social medicine and international solidarity. But we changed things. Our associative project aims to better prepare our citizens to face crises and rely on innovation.
For example, in the preventive aspect, we have created buses that go to meet the public, in neighborhoods or rural areas, to do health screening or awareness work. We have also developed French as a foreign language.
→ Read. Migrants at the Red Cross Reunification Office
We are also working on Lifelong Commitment by offering “Red Cross Choices” in some colleges and high schools, where students can learn the gestures that provide, discover the values of Commitment, IHL…and today, 30 institutions offer this type of choice. We would like to increase this number tenfold in the next three years.
In terms of interventions, the Red Cross movement is present in almost all crises of the world. In France, we still have a very important training activity: we train 60,000 people annually in first aid at the PSC1 level and those who wish can improve their skills.
As we will be called in at major sporting events, we will need to reinforce the teams: We would like to have an additional 3,000 to 5,000 first aiders in the next two years, on top of the current 10,000. Intervention techniques are also being developed, for example by developing refrigerated tents to better house victims in the event of a heat wave.
Finally, we are still present in more than 600 organizations that help people with difficulties, from nurseries to homes for the elderly, including social children’s homes and institutions associated with the management of disabilities. Here, too, we innovate. For example, for institutions that take in the elderly, we are very keen to maintain the quality of care, but we also try to bring them into contact with other generations. In Nantes, independent housing also includes a nursery and a parenting center.
The Red Cross is also very present in the Ukrainian crisis…
CDP: At the site, the ICRC assumed responsibility for the humanitarian component. We, the French Red Cross, transported nearly 700 tons of material to Ukraine.
We should also open delegations in Romania and Moldova, where it receives many displaced people, to help the local Red Cross in their missions. In France, we received tens of thousands of Ukrainians at stations, reception centers, humanitarian centers, trains … Regarding the provinces, we also helped find housing, distribute basic necessities or conduct health consultations …
Within 15 days, we created Hello Red Cross, a digital platform, paired with a phone platform, where displaced people and their caregivers can get all the information about their rights, and where they can find help. Help, in French, Ukrainian, Russian and English.