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Putting Community First Aid at the heart of our volunteering movement  

I have made a discovery. It’s a game changer. I don’t want to learn First Aid! I mean if I am having a cardiac arrest, it's useless. I want YOU to learn First Aid! I want my neighbour, my husband, my children, the bus driver, the shop keeper, the postie, anyone in fact who might be there when I need you, to learn First Aid.

I don’t want to be alone without help if I run into that kind of trouble. An older person who is frail and susceptible to falling needs a kindly neighbour and a neighbourhood ‘lifting cushion’. A young person feeling the social isolation perpetuated by the fakery of social media needs a peer who understands their loneliness. We need each other. And I think that we as a society know it.

Six million people turned out for the Big Help Out, I suggest, not because of an outburst of altruism, but a sense that we need each other, we need community, in these most challenging of days, and I think the people know it.

That’s why St John is changing its outlook. It's not First Aid that saves lives, its Community First Aid that saves lives. It is the community owning the responsibility for First Aid that saves lives. For years we have seen responsible communities place defibrillators in their public spaces, employers train their staff and of course our youth organisations educate their young people. But it's time for us to bring the challenge to all of our communities.

"Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back."Jodi Picoult

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive, St John Ambulance  
28 June 2023