Now is the time for community action!
Words provided by Communities Prepared
As concerns around climate breakdown continue to build, and initiatives such as Extinction Rebellion, school strikes and citizens' assemblies are drawing considerable interest in community action, there is a clear opportunity for us all to galvanise this momentum in communities across the country.
With the UK needing to prepare for a potential 4oC rise in temperature, communities can expect to face not only flooding, but a range of severe weather-induced events. In developing a nationwide network of trained and empowered volunteers able to confidently and effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from severe weather emergencies, Communities Prepared takes an innovative step forward for community resilience. The programme’s national approach builds on a successful Lottery funded pilot phase which ran from 2016 to 2018, supporting 300 volunteers from over 30 communities in South West England.
Volunteers in the Cornish coastal community of Portreath were supported through this pilot phase to grow their community flood warden group and develop and test their flood action plan. Following a live exercise in December 2017, just weeks later Storm Eleanor hit and the village flooded. Putting into practise what they had learnt, volunteers were able to act swiftly and efficiently, gaining praise from both the emergency services and Cornwall Council for their efforts:
“It was great to be part of such a massive team effort. We door knocked and handed out evacuation letters. The flood wardens got lots of compliments from the [emergency] services and residents!” Cllr Joyce Duffin, Portreath Flood Group Coordinator
We recognise that a lack of knowledge and confidence can act as a barrier to community resilience, and an inability to work effectively with the emergency services and other pivotal stakeholders can also impede response and recovery. Through online and in-person training, advice and support, tailored to local needs and priorities, Communities Prepared works with community volunteers to overcome these challenges. Training delivered to communities through the programme helps volunteers understand the responsibilities and limitations of their role and how it complements the work of other agencies:
“It helped us to better recognise the separate needs of the emergency services, making sure they weren’t having to double check or duplicate information and that we were supporting them efficiently.” Cllr Helen Deas Williams, Brixton Parish Community Emergency Team Coordinator (Devon)
As the frequency of floods and severe weather emergencies is ever increasing,
volunteers are needed now more than ever to support communities, not only with preparation and response, but to aid recovery and minimise long-lasting impact:
“We were quite good at writing plans but not so good at what you do afterwards. I think that training was very helpful - the follow-through that is needed to make sure people and businesses are supported in getting back to a working state as quickly as possible.” Cllr Williams, Brixton
Led by community charity Groundwork South, in partnership with the Environment Agency, Cornwall Community Flood Forum and Cornwall College Business, and with backing from The National Lottery and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, Communities Prepared is now being rolled out to communities across the country. Training will be supplemented by a new and first of its kind online resilience hub, which is due for launch in autumn 2019 at www.communitiesprepared.org.uk.
Phone: 01179 103930
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