Design: unikum graphic design, Berne. © Swiss Post Ltd
The Swiss Red Cross (SRC) was founded in Berne on 17 July 1866. The SRC responded to Henry Dunant’s call to ready itself to care for battle-wounded soldiers even in peace time. Although this remains part of its mission, it has taken on a plethora of additional activities in the intervening years.
From the early days of training first-aid assistants for the army, the SRC’s activities now encompass training for professionals in caring for the sick in peace time, assistance for the socially disadvantaged, family healthcare, various relief services, the blood donation service, first-aid training and emergency services, assistance for refugees and asylum seekers, emergency aid in the wake of disasters and development cooperation.
Today, with 500,000 members and 73,000 volunteers the SRC is Switzerland’s chief humanitarian organization. With its 24 cantonal associations, five rescue organizations, the institutions and the main branch office, it is established and active nationwide.
Without volunteers, there would be no Red Cross. 73,000 people – almost one percent of the population – volunteer their time to help others in Switzerland. One tenth of them are members of the Red Cross Youth. They are dedicated to helping elderly people with restricted mobility, families and children and people from other countries and cultures in the Red Cross cantonal associations. They also work as part of the rescue organizations and administer first aid and undertake patrol services at events.
The work of volunteers is supported by various SRC ambassadors. Among them is rapper Greis, who has composed a special rap about this. His message is: “What counts is not what you get back, but what you give”. That said – by giving, you do get something in return, as confirmed by a transport service volunteer: “My reward is the great gratitude shown by my passengers and the wonderful conversations that unfold.”
Beat Wagner, Head of Communication, Swiss Red Cross