Why community resilience is important
Individuals and communities may need to rely on their own resources to ensure they are able to cope with the consequences of an emergency. Many communities already help one another in times of need, but previous experience has shown that those who have spent time planning and preparing for this are better able to cope, and recover more quickly. The value of planning at the community level cannot be under-estimated.
It is not about creating or identifying a whole new community network or a one-off response to or recovery from an incident, but rather an ongoing process of using and enhancing existing relationships to better improve the emergency preparedness of an area.
A working definition of community resilience is given as:
“Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.”
The Community Resilience agenda is being led by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat within the Cabinet Office, the aims of the Community Resilience Programme are to:
- Increase individual, family and community resilience against all threats and hazards;
- support and enable existing community resilience, and expand and grow these successful models of community resilience in other areas;
- remove the barriers which inhibit or prevent participation in community resilience at a local level;
- support effective dialogue between the community and the practitioners supporting them;
- raise awareness and understanding of risk and the local emergency response capability in order to motivate and sustain self resilience;
- provide tools to allow communities and individuals to articulate the benefits of emergency preparedness to the wider community; and
- provide a shared framework to support cross-sector activity at all levels in a way that ensures sufficient flexibility to make community resilience relevant and workable in each local community.
The Isle of Wight Council is keen to encourage communities, including parish and town councils, to write their own community emergency plans. It is important however, to remember there is no statutory responsibility for these groups to plan for, respond to, or recover from emergencies. However it is good practice for communities to identify hazards and make simple plans on how they may respond when faced with an emergency.
The community group can help before or during an incident or emergency :
- By identifying local risks, resources and vulnerable groups.
- By using local resources to help in the response by providing support to emergency services.
- By helping those that are vulnerable and by providing care, support, information or practical help.
- By initiating a crisis management group to provide a point of contact and determine priorities.
- Maintaining communications within the community and with the Council.
- Managing the response of parish/town voluntary organisations.
- Representing the community.
- Assisting with community recovery .
- Assisting with managing emergency funds The Resilient Community.
- People in resilient communities use their existing skills, knowledge and resources to prepare for, and deal with, the consequences of emergencies or major incidents.
- They adapt their everyday skills and use them in extraordinary circumstances.
- People in resilient communities are aware of the risks that may affect them. They understand the links between risks assessed at a national level and those that exist in their local area, and how this might make them vulnerable. This helps them to take action to prepare for the consequences of emergencies.
- The resilient community has a champion, someone who communicates the benefits of community resilience to the wider community. Community resilience champions use their skills and enthusiasm to motivate and encourage others to get involved and stay involved and are recognised as trusted figures by the community.
- Resilient communities work in partnership with the emergency services, their local authority and other relevant organisations before, during and after an emergency. These relationships ensure that community resilience activities complement the work of the emergency services and can be undertaken safely.
- Resilient communities consist of resilient individuals who have taken steps to make their homes and families more resilient. Resilient individuals are aware of their skills, experience and resources and how to deploy these to best effect during an emergency.
- Members of resilient communities are actively involved in influencing and making decisions affecting them. They take an interest in their environment and act in the interest of the community to protect assets and facilities.
Preparing For Emergencies : Guide for Communities. This guide will help you take the first steps to think about why and how you can help your community to be prepared for an emergency. It invites you to think about:
- Why it is important to be involved and be prepared;
- what you can do to make it happen in your community; and
- the help available to you to do this.
Case studies show examples of how communities and organisations have equipped themselves to be ready to support people through emergencies. These can be used to help you think about what you might do in your community.
Community Emergency Plan Toolkit
This document is a step-by-step guide to help you and your community produce a Community Emergency Plan. A Community Emergency Plan is a tool you can use to help you prepare for the emergencies that could affect your community. It is just one way of planning within your community. You may wish to tailor your approach to better suit the needs of your community.
Community Emergency Plan Template
This template is designed for you to fill in the details of your community emergency preparations. There are examples given to help you fill the template. Detailed notes on how to create a plan can be found in the Community Emergency Plan Toolkit.
Preparing for Emergencies
Emergencies occur every day in one form or another. We hear about them on the radio or see them unfolding on the TV. We may try and imagine what we would do if it happened to us or in our local community. Minor emergencies, such as losing the house or car keys can be overcome by having a spare set available. In a similar way there are other simple measures that can be taken to prepare for more serious or prolonged emergencies:
Be Prepared – In the home
To be prepared it may be useful to consider keeping a supply of the following:
- Torch & spare batteries.
- Blankets/Sleeping bag.
- Camping stove
- Bottled water.
- Candles/hurricane lamp.
- Long-life food.
- Details of prescription medication.
- First aid kit.
- Battery powered radio & spare batteries.
- Tin opener.
If you have very young children or pets, a stock of food for them and anything else you can think of that you might need. It would also be useful to make a list of important contact numbers, such as your doctor’s, home insurance and utilities’. You may be asked to turn off electricity, gas and water supplies so if you don’t know where they are and how to turn them of, it would be helpful to find out.
Be Prepared – In the car
Travelling on the Island you are never very far from a village or town. If you travel further afield or in bad weather conditions, it is a good idea to keep an emergency supply kit in your car in case you breakdown or get stuck.
All year round:
- Bottled water.
- First Aid kit.
- Torch & batteries.
- Cigar plug lead for mobile phone.
- Long life snacks
- Waterproof coat & warm hat.
- Wellington/waterproof boots.
- Spare thick socks.
The Government has produced a booklet ‘Preparing for Emergencies’ which was distributed to every household in the UK in the summer of 2004. This booklet tells you how you can help yourself and your family in emergencies.
Emergency Contact Details
The following numbers will help you fill in the emergency contact details on page 20 of the Government booklet:
See also Emergency Information & Contacts web page for other numbers for coping with emergencies.
Go in – Stay in – Tune in
The GO IN, STAY IN, TUNE IN advice, included in the Government booklet is the best general advice for people caught up in most emergencies. If you are not involved in the incident, but believe your area may be affected, in most cases, the best thing to do is to go inside, stay inside and tune in to local radio or TV.
- Isle of Wight Radio 107 MHz FM (102 for Ventnor area).
- BBC Radio Solent 96.1 MHz FM.
- Ocean Sound 97.5 MHz FM.
- Wave 105 105.2 MHz FM.
- Power FM 103.2 MHz FM.
Listen out for Help Line phone numbers and write them down. You may be asked to keep doors and windows closed i.e. in the event of a toxic/chemical cloud.
In certain specific situations the Emergency Services may ask you to leave your home. There are a number of reasons why this might happen, for example, flooding, a suspect package or a gas leak.
You may be away for just an hour or two or you may have to stay in temporary accommodation overnight or longer. If necessary, turn off electricity, gas and water supplies, unplug appliances and lock all doors and windows. Don’t forget to take your prescribed medication with you and if you have any pets and where possible, take them with you with pet carrier/collar & lead.
The UK Resilience web site has a wide range of information on a variety of possible emergencies. It provides up to date news and guidance on all topical issues, with links to government departments, agencies, and other bodies who provide help and assistance.