We’re here to hear you: The Community Flood Zone at the Flood and Water Management Expo 2023

We are looking forward to attending the newly rebranded Flood and Water Management Expo at the NEC in Birmingham from the 13th-14th September. This is Europe’s leading Flood and Water Management event; providing the public with an opportunity to interact with flood professionals, researchers and communities all in one place. Join us there for free.

Community Flood Zone

Thanks to the success of last year, the Community Flood Zone is returning with the explicit aim of centring the public in the discussion around flooding. Developed by Communities Prepared and flood specialist organisations, this is a space to come with your questions, concerns and experiences and help to steer the priorities of the flood services sector and the wider conversation around flooding and community resilience. 

Richard Hood giving the keynote speech before leading a flood specialist panel at the Flood Expo 2022

Richard Hood, Alice Moorcroft-Hughes and Mike Anthony will be on -site running a stall representing CP, looking to offer advice and learn from public experiences to better ensure that our work meets the needs of the communities we support. We will be holding interactive troubleshooting workshops at our stall throughout the two-day event on property level flood protection, emergency plans, understanding your flood type, knowing who to reach out to, understanding responsibilities, and coming together as a community when building resilience to flooding. [resilience wheel image]

There will also be a social event held in which the public can meet and talk to specialists and representatives across the wider Flood and Water Management Sector. The intention of this event is to promote community-centred lived-experience as central to effective flood management and meaningful community resilience. Please join us with your stories, thoughts and concerns.

A space for you

If you have lived experience of flooding, or are interested in climate change and interconnected hazards, emergency response or community resilience, we urge you come to and speak with us at the Community Flood Zone in September. Your contribution to the conversation is vitally important, and will enable us to continue to broaden this initiative into next year. The entire Expo is free to attend and both welcomes and depends upon the engagement with the public: we are here to hear you!

Register to join us

Learn more about the Flood and Water Management Expo and what we have planned.

We hope to see you there. In the meantime, please do get in touch with any questions you have at


Protecting yourself and your community in a heatwave  

New Senior Project Officer Alice Moorcroft-Hughes brings specialist advice on heatwave precautions now the Summer is fixed to warm up.

As summer holidays begin and we turn our attention to our long-ignored BBQs and patio furniture it is worth remembering that behind the sunshine, there is a more dangerous element at play

Before the summer of 2022 most of us reserved the feeling of prolonged hot weather to our summer holidays abroad however the UK is set to continue to face these record-breaking temperatures in the years to come.  While heat itself is a divisive topic, some loving it and others spending the summer months seeking the cooling respite of the shade, we will need to re-evaluate how we protect ourselves and others as prolonged heat of 30 degrees and more is here to stay.  

For communities, heatwaves are opportunities to come together and support each other and society. As a starting point, you can reduce your need for the emergency services by first keeping yourself safe. This involves keeping hydrated, avoiding the hottest part of the day where possible, cooling your home by keeping curtains and windows closed and taking other heat precautions such a using a handheld fan. To help further you could support and engage community efforts to prepare for and withstand the heatwaves we are likely to face this year and beyond.

This could include: 

  • Monitoring and sharing the weather forecasts so you and your community are up to date with the heat alerts and warnings. The more you know, the more you can be prepared.  
  • Keeping water with you and setting up a cool water stations in your community spaces. Also don’t forget our 4-legged friends and offer them some water as well.  
  • Activating a cool space that can offer respite from the heat for people, such as a community hall. You could also consider working in partnership with a business who is able to support. 
  • Limiting your exposure in the hottest parts of the day wherever possible and make sure you consider these timings when planning community events or activities.  
  • Checking in on those most vulnerable in the heat such as your elderly neighbours, the medically vulnerable or people who are homeless. You could also consider engaging with a charity to further support.  
  • Making sure your community knows how to safely use water spaces to keep cool, such as the sea, a river or lake and consider running water safety initiatives to support this.  
  • Incorporating heatwaves into your community emergency plan or developing a heatwave specific plan so that you can act collectively and quickly. 

Once the summer months have passed and we start to feel the respite of the cooler and wetter autumnal days, 30 degrees or above may feel like a distant memory. Our preparations for heatwaves do not need to stop. Maintaining momentum for preparedness all year round will help your community in the long term. Perhaps consider incorporating designated heat shade areas within any community garden projects.  Consider running heatwave awareness initiatives all year round and keep looking ahead and preparing for the hot times to come. Capture summer reflections so you can share learnings and experiences, so people are able to make any adjustments ahead of the next time. Also consider running heat first aid courses as part of wider community initiatives and training moments.  

Whether you love or hate the heat, being heat safe is critical for both you and your community. Treating heat with respect and recognising the dangers it can bring is a starting point for this. Communities Prepared will be launching more detailed heat focused resources in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the above areas in more detail, please feel free to get in touch.   

For more information or advice about heatwaves, please check out:  





What do we mean by volunteer?

Emily Roach Osborne, Project Support Officer for Communities Prepared, considers the benefits of expanded definitions of volunteering this Volunteers’ Week

Volunteers’ Week 2023 falls within the landscape of the recent The Big Help Out during Coronation weekend on the 8th May and the release of the Time Well Spent survey from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations which indicate that volunteering is at all-time low in England due to global events such as COVID and the war in Ukraine, as well as national challenges such as political instability and the cost of living crisis. At Communities Prepared, we’re considering this context and how our own  encouragement of volunteering and offer of training is designed to meet the needs of communities.

Volunteers’ Week is designed to recognise and celebrate efforts of volunteers at the heart of UK communities. From those supporting the work of larger charities, to grassroots projects in local communities, the week of the 1st-7th June is reserved for celebrating their efforts in various ways.  Volunteering is often societally recognised as formal, free labour and is measured by the sacrifice of time and energy to campaign, fundraise, run an activity or support a charitable organisation. But a broader, more holistic definition of this involves a recognition of the sacrifice involved in the gift of time and energy, and an acknowledgment of the intersectional privileges and disadvantages that position us as able to volunteer or not.

A reflexive and holistic approach to volunteering is needed in order to effectively meet the specific needs of communities

Volunteering can mean an awareness of the wellbeing of those in our communities that exists beyond societal notions of working for free, held in acts of generosity and empathy within our neighbourhoods towards those whose suffering we witness in our day to day and who are restricted from advocating for themselves. The Know your Neighbour Fund recently announced by the Government shares this aim and will look to mitigate loneliness and unemployment in economically disadvantaged communities by providing opportunities to develop skills, get mentorship, socialise and connect.

At Communities Prepared, our definition of volunteer covers anyone looking to engage with our resources and learning and apply this knowledge in their homes and communities. This can mean more standardised examples of leading volunteer groups, developing emergency plans or spontaneously volunteering within an emergency, but can also be broadened to consider a more all-of-community approach to volunteering. Central to our program is the recognition that resilience is only developed through meeting the specific, fluctuating needs of a community, and this involves an acknowledgement of communities as a whole, an intention that must capture all of the people, and all of the environment, as well as what might limit a person’s ability to volunteer.

Pictured are events, workshops and meetings between Communities Prepared and local individuals, groups and communities since its beginning in 2016-present

When we invite people to register with us, we use the words ‘individual volunteer’. This inclusive term promotes that any individual looking to understand and contribute to community resilience should consider themselves as a volunteer. Considered within this broader definition of co-support and compassion, volunteering might present an avenue through which we might understand and mitigate broader social inequalities, their impact on those around us, and our own position of intersecting privileges and disadvantages when we think about how to improve societal resilience.

Register with us

Register with us to access our volunteering resources and more

If you are interested in learning more about our resources, we invite you to register with us via this page. It will give you access to our learning. We also have a members forum in which you are welcome to start discussions and ask questions with other engaged individual volunteers and volunteer groups across the country.

Registering is quick, free, and helps us gauge how many people our training and support is reaching as we evaluate the project. Your data will not be shared anywhere else, you will never be asked for your payment details, and you will only be signed up to our monthly newsletter as part of this process.

Learn More about Volunteering

If you have any questions about our work or about volunteering with us please contact us. If you are looking for other specific ways to volunteer time, energy or support to those around you, the NCVO have a stories page that gives examples of volunteering throughout the UK, and links to get involved and learn more about volunteering.

Related resources:

Read the NVCO’s Time Well Spent report via their website here.

Read more about the Know your Neighbourhood Fund.

Read more about Volunteers’ Week here and follow it through the hashtag #VolunteersWeek.

A new national offer, online hub and learning space

On Thursday 13th October from 2pm to 3pm, online via Zoom, we will discuss the new national offer which Communities Prepared has of training, workshops, support, resources, and discussion spaces for communities to come together. You can register for the launch event through our website. The new hub will be accessible to all from the end of September, and we look forward to sharing our plans for how we can help communities to be more resilient, and all of us collaborate together, using the platform.

We want the discussion at the event, and our offer, to contribute to our collective trajectory towards whole-of-society resilience, and we would very much like you to be part of this conversation with us. The launch event is open to anyone with an interest in community resilience, so do please share with your networks.

The hub (members area) is currently accessible however we are undergoing testing prior to the full launch and it may not have full functionality.

Flood Expo 2022

This September we’re excited to again be taking part in the Flood Expo. Held at NEC Birmingham from 14th-15th September, this is Europe’s leading Flood Management event; providing the public with an opportunity to interact with flood professionals, local authorities and communities all in one place, for free. We look forward to attending and engaging with the flood sector and wider public, as well as enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the latest technologies, services and strategies available to help predict, prevent and manage flooding.

What is most special for us about Flood Expo 2022 is the brand new -and first of its kind- Community Flood Zone. This initiative has been developed by Communities Prepared and other flood specialists with the explicit aim of centring the public in the discussion around flooding. It is a space to come with your questions, concerns and needs and help to steer the priorities of the flood services sector and the wider conversation around flooding. The Community Flood Zone will also include :

  • Mary Dhonau – answering questions and giving practical flood preparation advice using the flood mobile: a ‘flood house on wheels’ that demonstrates various property-level adaptations that can reduce the impact of flooding in your homes and business buildings. Have a look at her website ahead of the Expo.
  • Flood Re – answering questions and offering advice regarding affordable insurance options and the Build Back Better scheme for those who experience flooding in their homes. Have a look at their website ahead of the Expo.

Attending from our team is Richard Hood, Senior Project Officer with Communities Prepared. Richard is part of the programme’s delivery team, focusing on community development and training. He brings with him specialist knowledge in flood resilience and management, water rescue operations, incident management and operational procedures. He will be available to discuss your concerns and receive your questions on our Community Flood Zone stand throughout the Expo. Beyond this, insight and learning will be high on the agenda with a seminar programme packed with expert-led sessions, panels and demonstrations covering topics from flood reduction to property level flood protection, and a presentation from ITV Meteorologist and trusted voice on climate change, Laura Tobin. Richard will be taking part in a panel discussion as part of the seminar programme too; more details on this to follow.

If you or your community have been affected by flooding, we urge you come to and speak with us at the Community Flood Zone. Your contribution to the conversation is vitally important, and will enable us to continue to develop this initiative beyond this year. The entire Expo is free to attend and both welcomes and depends upon the engagement with the public, so please join us!

Follow the link to the Flood Expo website to sign up for free and see what’s in store, and please share the event with anyone you feel would benefit from it. The venue is wheelchair accessible, easily accessible by train or car and has extensive car parking facilities that you can pre-book. Feel free to contact us with any questions ahead of the event.

Takeaways from the Thames Valley LRF Community Resilience Conference

Jane Burt, Senior Project Officer for Communities Prepared, details her experience taking part in the recent Thames Valley LRF Community Resilience conference, and reflects on the meaningful knowledge she drew from it.

Communities Prepared was approached to have a stand at the recent Thames Valley LRF conference, held in Reading. We were also able to attend all the talks during the conference which sketched a complex and interesting landscape of resilience in the United Kingdom. As a relative newcomer to the UK I found it interesting how resilience is being depicted and what the challenges are for emergency services.

A core challenge that was shared was bridging the gap between emergency services and communities. The value of community engagement and community volunteers was not questioned. What was discussed was how to bridge the gap between a formal, hierarchical, and ordered system of emergency servicers response with the much more ad-hoc, informal engagement of local volunteers. The question that was continually posed in different ways was, ‘When should community volunteers be involved? How should community volunteers be involved and what should community volunteers do?’

This reminded me of my time in South Africa when we were rolling out the new National Water Act which embraced participatory and integrated water resource management. The desire was to engage civil society and all stakeholders in the management of water but how was this to be done when it was quite clear that some tasks had to be done by people that had specialised knowledge. We began playing with the water management cycle that had been set out by the South African government and broke it up into tasks. Then for each task we asked ourselves: Should civil society be involved? How, when and what? This helped us to clearly communicate with authorities and communities on their roles and responsibilities.

I could see that this is what the presentations were all engaging with in one way or another. Looking at actual events, emergency service professionals reflected on what worked and what had not. They questioned the role of citizens in relation to the stages of emergencies and in the preparation for emergencies. One idea that particularly struck me was having an anchor organisation of volunteers in an area that could be trained up to run a volunteer reception centre for when an emergency struck. I was also touched by the attention that was given to preparing for long term recovery, including acknowledging the trauma that comes with experiencing an emergency by both citizens and emergency services. It reminded me of the risks associated with being a member of the emergency services and that these risks are often not easy to see.

Finally, a valuable takeaway for me was the involvement of youth in community resilience. In Hampshire there is ‘Hampshire Young People’s Emergency Response’ . Not only is their acronym (HYPER) absolutely brilliant, but the work also that has gone into giving young people a purpose and a value in their community is inspiring.

Jane Burt is a Senior Project Officer for Community Development and Training at Communities Prepared

Learn about your closest Local Resilience Forum here, or find out about joining our own Communities Prepared network here. The upcoming Flood Expo and Emergency Services Show are also both free to attend and are great opportunities to become part of community preparedness conversations and networks.

Could you be our next programme evaluator?

Hand holding perfectly match jigsaw

To tie in with the start of our final round of National Lottery Reaching Communities England funding, we are on the look out for an experienced programme evaluator to come on board until May 2024.

Having this funding secured has given the team an opportunity to reflect on what has worked well to date, as well as what can be improved as we move into a period that has been deeply affected by the COVID pandemic and will be continually affected by the growing climate emergency. During this new phase of the programme we are developing a hybrid delivery approach of standardised online and bespoke in-person training; refining the website alongside this to help create a national and active network for community volunteers and partners. Alongside this, we will be designing and implementing a sustainability plan that ensures the longevity of Communities Prepared as a national community emergency volunteer support network beyond May 2024.

To achieve this is going to require continual evidence-based reflection and adaptation to respond to the changing and urgent context of emergency preparedness, response and recovery. This is where our new evaluator comes in.

Headline evaluation roles include: collaboratively finalising a new evaluation framework; leading quarterly reflection meetings with the team; designing, facilitating and implementing a mid-term evaluation and follow-up workshop; designing, facilitating and implementing an end of project evaluation process, report and workshop; and being willing/able to adapt findings for sharing with a wider audience.

The evaluation partner will need to directly engage with those involved in the project, including the programme team, partners and wider stakeholders (communities and resilience professionals). It is expected that both the mid-term and end of project evaluation will result in explanations and recommendations on what has worked, how and for whom as well as what has not worked and why.

Interested in finding out more? Please see the spec below, and a summary of the evaluation work carried out for our programme to date. We’d love you to get in touch if you have any questions. The deadline for proposals is Friday 29th July – we looking forward to hearing from you!

Communities Prepared Evaluation brief June 2022

Communities Prepared Evaluation summary October 2018 – May 2022

2022 Dorset Prepared Community Resilience Workshops to take place this March

Communities Prepared is delighted to be part of this year’s Dorset Prepared Community Resilience Workshop, running sessions on flood volunteering, community emergency plans and volunteer recruitment. Information on our sessions is available here, but please read on for an overview of the week from our partners at Dorset LRF.

Dorset Local Resilience Forum (LRF) will be hosting several community resilience awareness raising sessions, running between 7 and 11 March 2022.

The Dorset LRF is a multi-agency partnership made up of local councils, Emergency Services and NHS organisations, National bodies, utility companies and transport providers and voluntary and community groups.

The Dorset Prepared Community Resilience Workshop links in and works closely with communities to deliver advice, support and training to help enhance local resilience to emergencies and incidents.

Following the success of the two-day event held in 2021, this year will see a week-long series of online events and awareness raising with a range of partner organisations. The subjects will include:

Flooding and the Flood Warden scheme in Dorset
Climate change
Avoiding scams
Cyber security
Volunteering in the Community
Counter Terrorism
Community Resilience and Emergency Planning
Fire Safety and Safe & Well advice
Utility companies and how they plan for incidents

The events will be a range of live and pre-recorded presentations with Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions between Monday and Friday, starting at 09:30 am each day.

The schedule will see morning sessions running from 9:30 am to 1pm, afternoon sessions running from 2 to 5pm and an evening session running 6 to 8pm.

Nigel Osborne Chair of the Dorset Local Resilience Forum Community Resilience Group said:

“The Dorset LRF is committed to the ‘whole of society’ approach to community resilience so that individuals, communities, businesses and organisations can all play a meaningful part in building local resilience. The workshops are aimed at existing voluntary organisations, community emergency volunteers and anyone interested in getting involved with such activities. They are designed to help you develop local initiatives that enhance resilience to emergencies and incidents.”

To find out more and register your interest, go to dorsetprepared.org.uk/community-resilience-week-march-2022 and follow the link to Eventbrite. The tickets are free and by registering ahead of the sessions, you will get the chance to win a Home Emergency Grab Bag worth £168 (sponsored by Communities Prepared. Terms and conditions apply).

Somerset celebrates emergency volunteers

To continue Volunteers’ Week celebrations, registration has opened for the 4th annual Somerset Resilience event, with residents invited to sign up to a month of free, interactive online training with emergency incident responders and volunteer organisations. Volunteers’ Week celebrates the contribution volunteers make, recognising the huge positive impact they have, with many of these volunteers key to their community’s emergency preparedness.

The ‘Somerset Prepared’ partnership is organising the resilience event which will run across October. Throughout the month, there will live online talks, videos, toolkits and training which aims to help communities become better prepared for emergency situations, as well as looking at wider preparedness measures that anyone can take.  

Anyone who registers will receive a goody bag and information pack, and weekly emails throughout October, signposting to pre-recorded videos and written toolkits on a variety of subjects.  

Somerset Prepared co-chair and Environment Agency organiser Hannah Ovett said: “Interactive events like this are an excellent way to raise awareness with local communities and individuals and help them to take vital steps in preparing for an incident, which could ultimately save lives.  

“The month’s sessions will cover a range of subjects from how to use Natural Flood Management to Food Resilience and First Aid, and will also feature case studies from communities who have written and used emergency plans during incidents.”  

“The community chat sessions will be a great opportunity for groups to hear from each other, share their experiences and get together in a safe, online environment, whilst the training workshops are scheduled to help with topics we are consistently seeing raised by communities, including recruiting volunteers, how to assess risk and GDPR.” 

Sessions will be led by a range of organisations including the Environment Agency, South West Ambulance Service Trust, Communities Prepared, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Somerset Rotary, Somerset Civil Contingencies Unit, Spark Somerset, and Community Council for Somerset.   

To attend this free event, residents can register their interest on the Somerset Prepared website www.somersetprepared.org.uk.  

Our partners