02 June 2006
To mark the launch of UK's Volunteers' Week, 1-6 June, the government today published a new guide for people who want to help those affected by major disasters.
Thousands of people across the country have been motivated to act over the last 18 months as the full horrors of the Indonesian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan earthquake and the Asian tsunami unfolded on television screens.
However, many people were left feeling powerless and unsure of how best to contribute to the large-scale relief efforts.
The Department for International Development (DfID) launched a new booklet, "Disasters and Emergencies Overseas: How you can help," which explains that by donating money, organizing a fundraising activity or volunteering to work for a charity we can all help to save lives.
The booklet covers a range of top tips on how best to help including giving money not clothes so charities can buy the right goods locally, volunteering in the UK on donation phone lines or by working in a charity shop and organizing fundraising events.
Political chiefs also said supporters should check charity websites for updates instead of clogging phone lines and donate good quality clothes and other goods to charity shops.
Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for International Development, welcomed the recent support from the public and said: "When disaster strikes, the world needs - and wants - to respond quickly.
"The public response to the tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake was amazing. The British public raised £372 million for the tsunami alone.
"I've seen for myself how the money you donated saved lives and rebuilt homes. It really does make a difference so thank you."
Geraldine Pearce, operations director for the British Red Cross in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Cheshire, said: "Volunteers responding to disasters are the life blood of the Red Cross and its humanitarian response at a local level. We simply couldn't do it without the volunteers."