South Shields campaigners launch charity drive for new defibrillator
Ahead of International Women’s Day, the South Shields branch of the Women’s Institute (WI) has revealed it is teaming up with other regional groups to launch a heart health campaign.
The Sisters of Shields group is looking to lead the campaign alongside North East heart charity, the Red Sky Foundation.
The campaign aims to boost awareness around the early warning signs of heart disease and raise funds to better equip the town with life-saving defibrillators, adding to a number of recent installations in South Tyneside public places.
There are just four community public access defibrillators in South Shields at present.
Sisters of Shields says that, as a first step to address this shortage, it now plans to purchase a fifth machine, which will be sited at the town’s Newcastle Building Society branch.
According to the Red Sky Foundation, around 35,000 women are admitted to hospital following a heart attack in the UK each year - an average of 98 women a day, or four per hour.
Research also shows women delay seeking help when they experience heart attack symptoms, the charity says.
“By using our funds with the support of our members to sponsor a defibrillator, Sisters of Shields WI are providing the town with a much-needed piece of kit that could potentially save lives while also supporting a great charity,” Jayne Rudd, President of Sisters of Shields WI, said of the initiative, announced ahead of International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8.
She also thanked fellow WI member, Jannette Curry, whose idea it was to join forces with the Red Sky Foundation for the campaign.
The charity's founder, Sergio Petrucci, said the organisation wants to address the perception that cardiac arrest is ‘a male disease’.
He hopes that, by partnering with Sisters of Shields, the two organisations can help boost understanding around the risk of a heart attack for women, as well as its symptoms.
“Heart attacks are more treatable now than ever before,” Mr Petrucci said.
“However, many women are dying needlessly because heart attacks are often seen as more of a man’s disease, and women often overlook the symptoms.
“Working in partnership with the Sisters of Shields WI means we can start to tackle this problem together on a local level.”
Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, said: “Working with the Red Sky Foundation is another example of our commitment to communities and a fantastic way to make the most of our branch network for the benefit of wider high street.
“It’s great to see another innovative way that we can help make a positive difference in the community and we’re happy to provide our support to this great cause.”
When Covid restrictions permit the activity, The Red Sky Foundation and the Sisters of Shields say they will carry out a series of familiarisation sessions in South Shields with the North East Ambulance Service.
In addition to funding defibrillators across the North East, Red Sky Foundation has raised tens of thousands of pounds to buy vital equipment for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital, including a unique organ care transplant system and funded a specialist Fontan nurse post in the region, the first of its kind in the UK.