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On this day: St John Ambulance welcomes thousands of refugees

We look back at the St John Ambulance volunteers who supported thousands of Hungarian refugees fleeing conflict in their home country

17 November – 19 December 1957St John Ambulance volunteers - Image Credit: Museum of the Order of St John, London

60 years ago a wave of violence hit Hungary after a nationwide revolt against the government. Thousands were killed, and up to 200,000 Hungarians fled their homes and settled in other countries across Europe, including the UK.

In 1957, St John Ambulance volunteers welcomed thousands of Hungarian refugees. Initial support was provided by volunteers from London, Kent, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Surrey. Meanwhile, other volunteers across England prepared transit accommodation, and organised sick bays and collections.

Volunteers also provided first aid to sick refugees, alongside the British Red Cross. Cadets also had a role to play, they ran errands for hostel staff and private homes that had taken in refugees.

Between 17 November and 19 December 1957, St John Ambulance volunteers supported nearly 11,000 Hungarian refugees.

Supporting local communities

St John Ambulance volunteer at Manchester Pride

Today, most of our work is based in local communities across England, serving those from all backgrounds.

We recently launched the First Aid Community Advocate programme, designed to target hard-to-reach communities. Our team of First Aid Community Advocates help to raise awareness of the importance of first aid within their local community. They do this by giving talks and demonstrations on first aid at community centres, local events and groups.

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