The Vital Role of Volunteering in Emergency Response

As we all know, volunteering has often been the glue that holds society together, especially for emergency response. Without it, we can’t recover from disasters or emergencies with the same resilience, as seen during COVID-19.  

The impact of some emergencies can be immense and create diverse needs, which the emergency services might struggle to respond to with high demand and limited resources, Take a major flood, for example. What can a community do to support itself and take purposeful action in such a difficult situation? Communities Prepared has been answering that question for years with its online learning and webinars. 

British Red Cross volunteers responding to a flood in the UK

You can support your community in the way you find appropriate. Interested in volunteering? You can find some local and general volunteering emergency organisations here, at the government’s newly launched preparedness website.  

Organised community emergency response volunteers can provide immense support to affected communities. Here are two, different but similar examples, where it was community power was immense:

  • TCCA’s efforts in mobilising their large group of volunteers, community groups and local organisations to send out food and sanitation supplies in North London to Southeast Turkey after the devastating effects of multiple severe earthquakes, affecting approximately 15.7 million people, with over 55,000 lives lost and nearly 130,000 injured. The disaster displaced millions from their homes. 
  • Khalsa Aid’s efforts during the 2015 floods, in the UK, helped provide food and assistance to Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria. These areas were severely affected, with people evacuated from their homes.  

Volunteers have a vital role and can use their local knowledge and strengths to support their communities. They can support by being eyes on the ground, checking in with wider community members, and activating their community emergency plan.  

Volunteer efforts not only address immediate needs but also strengthen community bonds and promote a culture of preparedness and mutual support. When individuals come together to help each other in times of crisis, it fosters a sense of unity and resilience that prepares the community for future challenges. 

Volunteering is crucial in emergency response and recovery. It enhances the capacity of emergency responders, fills possible gaps, and builds stronger, more resilient communities. As we continue to face natural and man-made disasters, the role of volunteers will remain indispensable. By participating in programs like those offered by Communities Prepared, anyone can contribute to making their community more resilient and prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead. 

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