The programme

The risk of severe weather emergencies is increasing, exacerbated by the impact of climate breakdown. Multi-role emergency groups are needed now more than ever to prepare communities to effectively respond to these challenges and play a vital role in early warning, reassurance and assistance. Communities Prepared is a timely new national resilience programme that equips communities with the knowledge and tools to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from, severe weather emergencies. It does this by providing training and support tailored to local needs and priorities, both in person and online.

While a number of organisations champion community resilience, this is often localised or tends to focus on a single issue, such as flooding. By taking a nationwide approach, Communities Prepared goes beyond this, delivering training, support and resources that can be adapted for multiple emergencies, including floods, snow and utilities failure amongst others. The focus of training and level of support is tailored to the needs and priorities of each CEV group, so it is very much led by you. We work with a range of national and local partner organisations, collaborating with them to provide training and support, share expertise and signpost to other key tools and resources.

This depends on how much support you feel you and your community would benefit from. Training sessions are 1.5 hours each plus a brief planning and follow up call. You can choose how many sessions you’d like us to deliver and which modules would be most aligned to your community’s needs. We can deliver up to 4 training modules in a day’s session or run this over two days/evenings. If you have the time and capacity, we offer add-on modules that cover a wide range of severe weather emergencies and related issues, as well as support with other activities such as developing or testing your flood / emergency plan, fundraising, communications, securing insurance and conducting risk assessments. The amount of time this takes again depends on your needs. If you’d like to deliver the training yourself, you’re welcome to do so – our resources are downloadable and we provide teaching notes too.

The Communities Prepared team from Groundwork South is leading the programme and shares delivery of the training with local Groundwork trusts, the Environment Agency, local emergency services’ representatives and other local partners. Groundwork is a national community and environmental charity consisting of regional trusts that work across the country to support communities to create better places, to improve their prospects and to live and work in a greener way.

Access to our online resources, introductory-level support and advice is free. Membership to our online hub is required but is completely free and provides a range of benefits (outlined below).

Our introductory-level support for your CEV group includes an initial call to talk through your requirements and to discuss how we can help, with suggested next steps. We offer free introductory sessions which we deliver to multiple community groups across a region, offering a taster of the training modules and what to expect.

If your group would like us to provide in-person training sessions and tailored ongoing support, we will need to apply for local funding on your behalf or work with you to apply for local grants and schemes in order to make this possible.

You will never be required to cover the costs yourself and it is the responsibility of the Communities Prepared team to secure funding. However, we would like to work with you where possible to fundraise for your community and can provide training and support for coordinators or volunteers interested in developing these skills.

The hub has been designed to be used by everyone involved or interested in improving community resilience. It has been developed with input and on-going feedback from our stakeholder group, made up of community group representatives, category 1 and 2 responders and other key partners. The three hands of our logo represent the volunteers, community group coordinators and partner organisations that need to work collaboratively to prepare for, respond to, and recover from civil emergencies.

Access to the hub is free for all to use, with information on the programme, news, community stories and FAQs available for all, and providing a range of resources, information and support for those who join as members (free of charge).

Membership to the hub is completely free and offers a wide range of benefits. As a member you can access and download all of our adaptable training resources, access our e-learning courses to test or refresh your knowledge, create a profile for your group, join the members’ forum and record the details of your group’s training. Registering as a member helps us to have a better understanding of the needs of your group and the reach of our programme. It also enables us to provide more tailored support to you when you need it – by knowing who our members are and what their interests and priorities are, we can ensure that this hub is a valuable resource to community groups and those who work with them across the country.

We are working with an independent evaluator, ERS, to review and evaluate the programme, liaising closely with staff, partners and wider stakeholders to understand and assess its processes and impacts and inform its sustainable future. With obtained permission, ERS is directly engaging with those involved in the programme, in the design of the evaluation and to assess how far the programme’s outcomes are being achieved, identify which elements are working well or less well, understand the factors contributing to the programme’s results and draw out lessons for the future. They are employing a variety of evaluation tools and approaches, including attending training sessions, analysing feedback forms/survey results and interviewing a range of participants and other stakeholders to understand the direct impact that the programme has had on communities and those who work with them. Their findings will be shared via case studies on the website and in our ongoing evaluation reports.

Any information you provide will be stored securely by the Communities Prepared team, and will only be shared with our evaluation partner, ERS Ltd, and web developer, Eskimo, who may use the information you provide to support the evaluation of the programme or the mapping of member groups. All data used for this purpose will be anonymised (unless express permission is given by you to include it in a case study or quote) and it will not be possible to identify any individual people or properties in any maps or other outputs produced.

The role of volunteers and CEV groups

No. The activities of CEVs is not a replacement for the emergency services and specialist rescue teams. You are there to support the emergency responders, not replace them, and you should never put either yourself or others at risk. Our introductory training modules cover this in more depth, setting out the role of CEVs and providing guidance on working effectively with the emergency services and other agencies.

There are many roles that a community emergency volunteer can undertake, from helping to fill in forms and making cups of tea in a rest centre, to shovelling snow or moving sandbags. As a potential volunteer, don’t let your physical abilities put you off from volunteering but make sure you inform your group coordinator of any pre-existing medical conditions you have so they can give you tasks that suit your abilities.

Yes, absolutely. This is woven in to a number of our training modules as it is an important element of developing a community emergency / flood plan. We are also in the process of developing a specific module on working with vulnerable residents – please get in touch to find out more.

The CEV coordinator has an important part to play in the setting up, running and management of your CEV group. They will also form the first point of contact for the emergency services during an incident. It is important for the CEV coordinator to provide leadership and encouragement to the group to ensure its longevity and to maintain interest even when incidents don’t occur. For more guidance see our CEV Coordinator Training resources.

The Community Emergency Plan is a chance for your community to assess the risks it faces, and write down in a simple and uncomplicated way how it would deal with each of those risks. It is a good place to hold the contact deals of important people in the local community who have the specialist knowledge, skills or equipment that you might wish to call on in an emergency. The plan should be considered a ‘live’ document that needs regular checking, exercising and updating where necessary to ensure it is still relevant. For more guidance see our Incident Management Training Part 2 resources or follow this link for additional toolkits and templates:

Our partners