Locally Led, Locally Responsive

It is challenging to provide a succinct account of everything we do to provide community healthcare. Our First Aid and Ambulance services, Eye Care and Mother and Baby programmes are clearly part of those “Medical Responses to Community Healthcare Needs”. But there is much more, all contained within our mission statement: “St John is an international family of charities whose mission is to lead globally in First Aid and medical responses to community healthcare needs”. We hope these stories will help give a picture of St John as a charity with a grass roots, bottom-up approach to community healthcare. Because our establishments know best what is needed in their communities, and because the contexts in which they are working are very different, the services they provide can also vary enormously while all being consistent with our overall mission.

What's the challenge?

Every St John establishment is an independent organisation, managed and led by people from that country/territory. Part of what makes St John volunteers and staff so special is that they are part of the communities they serve. They are responsive to circumstances around them and can see for themselves what the community needs.

As a result, in addition to our world leading First Aid and Ambulance work, St John provides a wide variety of different medical services that vary from place to place depending on need. This has always been a key part of our work – St John set up an Eye Hospital in Jerusalem in 1882 as a response to the particular need in the local population. Today, the hospital is a world leading centre in eye care, serving people in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.  You can read more about our Eyecare here.

St John works in several places where populations are in need of specialist healthcare interventions, in both high and low income countries.  Support for maternal and child health, dentistry for disadvantaged citizens, kidney dialysis, emergency help for opioid overdoses, and immediate help for people suffering mental health problems are all issues that St John deals with. We provide what is needed today and our services are constantly evolving to reflect the changing needs of the communities they serve.


Where do we work?

We could write a long list, or we could show you the map! We think our map gives a better understanding of the breadth and depth of St John’s medical responses to community healthcare needs – and it’s interactive!

What are we doing? (And how are we doing it?)

We are a humble organisation, which from its beginnings, challenged the established social order and put the least hierarchically important people at the top of our world view as ‘our lords the sick and the poor’.

We are unique in having deep roots in every community we serve. We do not fly in and claim to understand what communities need. We are those communities and know what is needed. Our services are delivered by local people for local people. By building capacity within communities, we help to make them more resilient.

Our people are learning skills for life, skills which they take into their lives beyond St John. Leadership, planning, empathy and resilience all form part of the skill set which St John volunteers and staff develop through their service. Young people may become more confident public speakers, gain exposure to senior people or get their first experience of managing and supporting others. The learning never stops, and we learn as much from each other as from formal training. Our commitment to transparency means that we are honest with ourselves and each other about our mistakes. That helps us to improve, both as individuals and as an organisation.

This is how the variation in our services has developed, in places where those who live and work there have identified a challenge and worked to develop interventions which address the need.

  • We run Mother and Baby programmes in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda,
  • St John Hong Kong offer dental care, and cycling response units which can get quickly to hard to access places where people need urgent medical care,
  • We operate blood donation centres in Malaysia and Kenya,
  • St John Canada runs a very successful Opioid Overdose Response Unit,
  • Dialysis support is offered in Malaysia,
  • St John Zimbabwe, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa all offer Home-Based Care Training.

This list is not exhaustive! Read our case studies below to find out what our community healthcare work looks like on the ground:

Pride Month celebrations

Medical Responses to Community Healthcare Needs Stories

Medical Responses to Community Healthcare Needs Stories