Volunteering with the Red Cross

The Red Cross in Portugal is on the lookout for volunteers and, as Vaughan Willmore discovered, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and help the most vulnerable in our community.

At this time of year more than any other, it’s worth thinking about how we can help those less fortunate than ourselves. One way to do that is by volunteering with the Red Cross, the largest humanitarian organisation in the world.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were formed in 1919 and today benefit from the support of 14 million volunteers. Here in Portugal, The Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa) couldn’t carry out its fantastic work without its army of 5,000 willing volunteers, many more of whom are desperately needed.

Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa is organised into delegations of which there are three locally, in Lagos, Portimão and Silves. I spoke with Dr José Alberto Baptista, President of the Lagos delegation, and asked him what messages he has for the British community. Dr Baptista said, “The message is simple: the community needs volunteers. Firstly, because it is through volunteering that many of us learn how far our human capacity to help and serve others can go. Secondly, the part of the community that needs volunteers will feel the whole community is with them, and their loneliness or suffering is shared.”

Dr Baptista went on to explain that not speaking Portuguese is no barrier to getting involved, “On the contrary,” he said, “considering the English and foreign community that live in our municipality, it is necessary and urgent they participate in our community. The best way to do that is by volunteering because we all belong to a single community, and the problems of the entire community are also ours.”

There are many ways to get involved, some of which can be relatively short term, while others require a longer commitment. In Lagos, the main opportunities concern:

  • Providing first aid (for which training will be provided).
  • Providing social care type support, which could be teaching English to a Portuguese family, collecting and delivering food packages, reading stories to housebound or bedridden patients, or simply being there to provide company to people who need it.
  • Raising funds through activities such as sponsored walks or runs, book sales and cake sales.
  • Donating items of need, for example, clothing, personal hygiene products, bed linen, non-perishable food, kitchen utensils, wheelchairs, crutches, and household appliances.
  • Making a financial donation.

Volunteering offers a fantastic opportunity to help others and take pleasure from doing so. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to develop and demonstrate new skills and knowledge, and the chance to make many friends while positively influencing life in the community in which we live.

If you’d like to get involved, then contact your local delegation. The volunteer coordinator will work with you to understand your expectations and see if there are suitable opportunities. If needed, you’ll have the opportunity to access training so you can develop your skills so that you feel confident in your new role and able to make the difference you want to make.


Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa Lagos
+351 282 760 611
Rua Miguel Bombarda 50, Lagos 8600-315

Donations should be sent to PT50 0035 0387 00015131430 08


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