A British Red Cross volunteer from Greater Manchester has been awarded a special edition commemorative coin for her outstanding contributions to volunteering as the charity celebrates its 150th birthday on 4 August 2020.

Rukia Shepherd, from Bury, is an emergency response volunteer who supported victims of the Manchester Arena bombing and Grenfell.

She said: “Over the last few months I’ve been working on the frontline of the coronavirus response alongside my job teaching key worker children. I provided support to 20 refugee and asylum-seeking families over 13 weeks in Rochdale, Oldham and part of Manchester Central by providing vital food and medical supplies. Over this time I grew to know these families and supported with any additional needs they might have such as bedding and clothes.

“These few months have been challenging and surreal at times, so it’s been a lovely surprise and an honour to receive this recognition. I feel that I’m receiving this on behalf of all the volunteers up and down the country that are pulling together during this crazy time. I put my heart and soul in to my role and I feel grateful that it has been recognised, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the team of people behind me – from the team checking in on me after my shifts to my manager Gale.”

Rukia’s coin is one of 150 uncirculated £5 coins donated by the Royal Mint to Red Cross volunteers and staff nominated by their colleagues for going above and beyond during the Covid-19 emergency.

From the Aberfan disaster to responding to an emergency every four hours in 2017, Red Cross staff and volunteers spring into action when crises hit.

Earlier this year, when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, thousands joined the charity to support the most vulnerable. The Red Cross has been at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, supporting those hardest hit by providing practical and emotional support through their national support line, getting cash grants, food and other essential supplies to people in urgent need, and helping the NHS to transport patients safely home from hospital.

Since the start of the emergency, Red Cross staff and volunteers have provided practical support to more than 40,000 people across the North of England, delivering food parcels to 25,330 people.

Featuring bespoke artwork by Henry Gray, the coin bears the words “The Power of Kindness” illustrating the organisation’s ethos of selflessness, compassion and goodwill. The idea of connectivity is central to the coin’s design, with overlapping lines representing what we can achieve when we work together. The edge inscription around the coin bears the powerful words of the Movement, ‘PER HUMANITATEM AD PACEM’, which translates to ‘THROUGH HUMANITY TO PEACE’.

British Red Cross Chief Executive Mike Adamson said: “We are honoured that the Royal Mint has chosen to acknowledge 150 years of support by the British Red Cross to people in crisis.

“Today our staff and volunteers are putting kindness in action at the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have been supporting the most vulnerable by delivering food and medicine, making sure refugees and people seeking asylum are safe, providing a supportive ear through our national support line and helping the NHS to get patients home from hospital.

“From then to now, it’s all down to the dedication of our volunteers, staff and the generosity of our supporters that we can continue our lifesaving work. And it is the power of their kindness that will ensure we are there for those who need us most for many years to come.”


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