British Red Cross targets next generation of volunteers for its 150th anniversary

The British Red Cross is running an immersive theatre experience that aims to show people what its like to be a refugee, one of several marketing initiatives planned as it targets the next generation of volunteers to mark its 150-year anniversary.

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The British Red Cross helps the relief effort in Haiti following an earthquake.

The “Seeking Sanctuary” event takes place in central London on 15 and 16 November and invites the audience to spend an hour in the shoes of a refugee. Visitors will be able to walk through a series of scenes from the 1950s to the present day, with actors picked from refugee communities showing the plight of people that have been displaced.

The visitors will be part of the experience too, with each member of the audience given their own “papers” that guide them through the event and dictate which order they visit scenes in.

The event is supported by an exhibition by Sunday Times photojournalist Paul Conroy, who captured images of Syrian refugees displace by civil war and now living in the UK to show what its like to settle in a new place.

Speaking to Marketing Week, PR manager Lisa McCabe said the experience is part of a new strategy at the British Red Cross aimed at widening its reach and attracting new types of people to the organisation.

“This is a new and engaging way of speaking to the public. We want to drive awareness and understanding of what its like to be a refugee and get people looking beyond the label,” she added.

In particular, the British Red Cross is targeting younger people as it looks to find the next generation of volunteers and fundraisers. McCabe said the charity hopes this event and further interactive marketing campaigns will “bring the brand to life” and showcase the issues it deals with.

The British Red Cross is also looking to engage with a new audience through social media, using content from events such as Seeking Sanctuary to get across its wider message. In the long term, McCabe said its communications are aimed at boosting public support for and understanding of its work and improving the lives of its beneficiaries.

“We want to encourage people to understand what we have done in the past and our role going forward. Refugee work is a massive part of what we do, we have an amazing volunteer backbone and legacy of work and this is about finding a new way to tell that story,” said McCabe.

The International Red Cross, of which the British Red Cross is a part, was founded in 1863 and now has almost 100 million members worldwide. In the UK, it has helped more than 10,000 refugees settle in the past year, with many coming from conflict zones such as Syria.

It is also helping with the relief effort in the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. The organisation is appealing for donations to help those affected, with the appeal raising £1m so far.

It also has teams on the ground in the Philippines and workers at its warehouse in Bristol are loading supplies such as tents, sanitation kits and logistical equipment that will be flown to its distribution hubs across the affected area.

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