RNLI volunteers in flooded highstreet

Volunteering and emergency response

Published : 20/07/22 | Categories: Volunteering |

A session at this year’s gofod3 described the development of a framework for improving collaboration between public, private and voluntary sectors, so that volunteers can be more effectively deployed in future emergencies.

Volunteering has long defined communities’ responses to a crisis. The devastating scale and frequency of crises we’ve faced recently has put a spotlight on voluntary action – its importance, impact and sustainability.

The valuable community response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other major emergencies, highlighted the need for effective volunteer coordination.

Supported by the Wales Resilience Group, British Red Cross, funded by a Volunteering Wales Strategic Grant, coordinated the research and consultation to improve emergency response coordination of volunteers in Wales by exploring partnerships within and between the third, private and public sector.

The framework considers the different phases of a crisis:

Sometimes (not always), there is a planning phase, followed by the height of emergency and a recovery period.

Three types of volunteer have a part to play:

  • volunteers who are emergency focused, trained and equipped to respond 24/7, such as rescue teams. During COVID-19 the experience of many such volunteers is that they were under-used.
  • local volunteers, who have transferable skills, access to equipment and valuable local knowledge. They are available in large numbers through the organisations for which they usually volunteer
  • Spontaneous volunteers, including passers by and neighbours who want to help. The bigger the scale of the emergency the more this response requires careful management, for reasons of both efficiency and safeguarding

A report will be available shortly, with recommendations for a framework for coordination that will go to the Welsh Government Resilience Forum to take forward.

Taking this work forward will involve engagement with stakeholders in national and local resilience fora and gathering of data on local organisations and their capacity, to inform local emergency planning.

If you would like to be notified when the report is available, email  fliddell@wcva.cymru

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