Insights from the BRIC Project Closing Conference – March 2023, Plymouth

Project Support Officer Emily Roach Osborne reflects on the approach and learnings of the BRIC project in engaging communities and effectively, collaboratively improving climate resilience in communities.

Communities Prepared attended the Social Innovation for Climate Resilience conference in Plymouth on Wednesday 15th of March. This conclusion of the two-year Building Resilience in Communities project across the UK and France showcased the eight different programmes developed in this time, all of which sought to engage with local communities in preparing for, managing, and recovering from flooding. We were grateful to be able to attend and exhibit at what was a very interesting, informative and diverse event, and for our Programme Manager Hannah Baker to both contribute a keynote speech on the Communities Prepared programme and sit as part of a panel discussing the challenges, surprises and insights encountered when engaging communities. In her keynote speech, Hannah took the opportunity to introduce attendees to Communities Prepared and our approach, sharing examples of where and how we’ve been working to date. Hannah set out some of our learnings from engaging communities and professionals across England, and how we’re applying these to our future plans.

Communities Prepared Programme Manager Hannah Baker giving a keynote speech on Communities Prepared

     One of the biggest insights from the conference was hearing of the methods, challenges and approaches to engaging communities across the programme given frustrations with communication, information and funding, as well as complex and varying vulnerabilities, and broader contexts of the COVID pandemic, the cost of living crisis and climate change. How do we understand and meet the needs of the communities in a way that empowers them given these factors? How can we be of meaningful use to them?

     Many of the projects tackled this through creating space for listening. Be that through facilitated forums between the public and project stakeholders such as local councils, services and businesses or through storytelling, mapping and embodied walking exercises in which people shared their experiences, or creative, visualising activities. Opportunities for communities to meet and contribute to collective memory with photography projects through Thames 21’s Canvey Island pilot and to have their emotions heard (Authie Valley, France), as well as celebrate their communities in local festivals in (Plymouth, UK) and Aulne Valley, France) were powerful examples of what is meaningful to communities who have experienced flooding and are looking to heal and strengthen their resilience.

Hannah and Emily observing a presentation given in French. The conference was delivered in both English and French, with live translation throughout the day. Image courtesy of Amy Stanford Photography

     To this end, intersectionality was also discussed by Samuel Rufat of Institut Universitaire de France as a means of effectively capturing and meeting the complexity of needs within communities and demonstrates how new frameworks of understanding can inform community resilience. New technologies were also discussed by Ogoxe, a company based in France that seeks to provide reliable, accessible, free information on weather and related emergency risks, demonstrating the scope and potential of modern technology in democratising information in order to empower the public, and how funding can make this possible.

     This conference was an opportunity to consider what it means to meaningfully engage a community in a way that builds trust and respects the cost of volunteering for people within such communities during times of crisis. Some useful publications from the conference are listed below with weblinks for further insight into emergency planning, community engagement and crisis recovery. It was raised that projects like BRIC ideally need longer to achieve their objectives, and for this reason it is commendable what BRIC has achieved and learned given the impact of broader social issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis. Whilst the broader project is now coming to a close, both the website and some of the pilots will stay active. Visit the BRIC website and explore the pilot sites of the project to learn more about their collaborative approach to engagement.


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.

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  

From floods to pandemics: adapting to COVID-19

Andrew Turner is the Emergency Officer for Sixpenny Handley and Pentridge Parish Council in Dorset, whose role until COVID-19 largely covered groundwater flooding. Here, he discusses how he and his team of community volunteers adapted to the impact of COVID-19.

Can you explain some of the steps you took to adapt to COVID-19?

I started to review our Community Emergency Plan in February 2020 as more COVID 19 outbreaks were occurring. At this point, I had planned out the workings of our Flu Friends support group but had no community volunteers. In early March I put posters up around the village with my contact details asking for volunteers. Within a week I had 18 and by the time the lockdown occurred I had over 80. I divided the Parish into areas based on the number of houses and allocated a team to each with a Leader and Deputy. I also established a Phone Buddy team, made up of people in the community with appropriate skills or those who wanted to be involved but couldn’t as they had to self-isolate.

We sent letters to residents, explaining how to order food from our local shops and arranging for prescriptions to be collected. This was issued along with a newsletter explaining what we were doing and helping keep people informed. We’ve kept the newsletters going and each one has had a different angle, including good news stories and reminders about key safety aspects.

Everything we have established through COVID-19 needs to be maintained so that we have a package ready should it be needed again.

How did you find the process of adapting?

It was very quick to get the group up and running because I had done the groundwork with the plan and received a lot of community volunteers willing to support those having to isolate. Our Dorset Councillor was and is very supportive and I have a call each week with the Parish Council to keep them up to date. However, making decisions in the beginning, based on what I felt was the right thing to do, was very difficult; no county wide communication loop had been established and I did feel very isolated as a result.

Within the team I have maintained weekly calls with the Team Leads, Phone Buddies and Reserve volunteers. This ensures we have a chain of command and consistent messaging as well as the ability to feed back. I gather stats from each team every week and collate these to establish how much ‘work’ we are undertaking. Initially, this was to know whether any team was overloaded, and is broken down in terms of shopping, prescriptions and phone calls. As we gathered data, I have been able to build a profile and can now see we have a steady volume of trips and calls that is sustainable within the team.

How did you use social media and other communication tools during the crisis response?

I set up a Facebook page and a group in the NextDoor app to push information out – either updates on our group’s activities or output from the GOV.UK daily update. This information also gets uploaded onto our community website, so those not using Facebook or NextDoor can still access it. I have also set up a free Microsoft Teams area where all our documents are stored.

I used the Communities Prepared website for information and guidance in setting the support team up and continue to check back for other resources to utilise.

Have there been any key learnings from this experience that you’ll take forward?

Everything we have established through COVID-19 needs to be maintained so that we have a package ready should it be needed again. I made use of Communities Prepared training/briefing packs to ensure we were covering the right scope at a realistic level and to inform community volunteers joining the team. Engagement within the community has been key to the success of the plan and so we need to ensure we maintain this going forward. We need to work with Dorset Council to ensure we are better integrated.

Will you maintain engagement with the new volunteers you’ve acquired through the pandemic? If so, how do you see them playing a role in future emergencies?

Yes, when we’re able to meet, I want to workshop the whole experience to gather everyone’s thoughts and ensure we track what we did but also what could have been done better. With this information I will update the Pandemic Flu plan for future use. I also want to keep everyone registered so that I can contact them periodically and look at how we can extend other areas of our overall emergency plan if needed.

What stage is your community at now? Are you looking at crisis recovery?

We are continuing our support model and expect to align this with the overall Government recommendations.

Andrew Turner sitting with his dog

As lockdown restrictions ease, communities will be starting to look at ways to rebuild and strengthen. Our free upcoming webinar takes a practical look at how community volunteer groups & Town & Parish Councils can assist with crisis recovery. Book here.

Building resilience in rural communities

Communities Prepared (a Groundwork South programme) and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) have published a new guide to help rural communities become more resilient in the face of emergencies.

Drawing on the experience of local rural charities and existing initiatives, the guide provides practical tips for rural residents to prepare for, and help each other, at times of crisis. It shows how volunteer groups can be set up to develop emergency plans that identify local risks, and maps out the resources and support that can be mobilised should situations arise that threaten the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of people in the local area.

A tractor clears snow from a roadway after the Beast From The East Winter Storm.

Financial backing for the guide has been primarily provided by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, with additional support from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Zoey Ayling, Programme Manager for Communities Prepared said: “As the outbreak of Covid-19 has demonstrated, unexpected events can and do happen, threatening the way of life we have become accustomed to. Sometimes the impact on individuals and the services that support them can be severe, with recovery taking months, if not years. That’s why we created this guide to help communities plan ahead, offering information and practical guidance on how to identify risk, understand the key roles during an emergency and pull together to build long term resilience.”

The guide features stories where rural communities took a proactive approach to anticipating and responding to emergency situations. These include the delivery of hot meals to residents in Caddington, Bedfordshire, who were left without electricity and gas after heavy snowfall, and community and voluntary organisations that joined together to help residents and businesses recover following the extensive flood damage caused by Storm Desmond in 2015.

David Emerson, ACRE’s Chair said: “We are delighted to publish this guidance with Communities Prepared, which builds on the ACRE Network’s rich heritage of helping rural communities to help themselves – sometimes at the most difficult of times – by making the most of their local knowledge, capacity and resources. In contrast to their urban counterparts, rural communities are not well served by public infrastructure and services so initiatives led by volunteers can make a tremendous difference to the wellbeing, livelihoods and security of everyone locally. This way of working has been demonstrated brilliantly in the context of Coronavirus – when we are seeing rural communities across England taking a lead on local responses to the pandemic, from good neighbour schemes to village halls being used to distribute food parcels.”

Building community resilience to challenges also has many other benefits beyond the emergencies. Examples in the guide show how this can also bring about environmental improvements, foster new community networks, and underpin social cohesion.

A close up of a person’s gloved hand picking up a plastic bottle from leaves on the ground.

This essential guide will make it possible for everyone in the countryside to recognise the risks to their community, understand what can be done to prepare for them, and be familiar with the emergency actions that can be taken in conjunction with other agencies should the worst happen.

Celebrating community emergency volunteers

To celebrate Volunteers’ Week 2020, we chatted to Calum, aged 25, who started volunteering with the Bradford on Avon Town Council Community Emergency Volunteers (CEVs) in February. Paul Robertson, who heads up our training and development for the Communities Prepared programme, is the group’s senior coordinator.

This interview with Calum took place before the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown. The group has since been on duty for over 10 weeks, providing deliveries to the vulnerable and self-isolating in the community around the clock. A further 10 volunteers have joined the team during the pandemic, including many younger members of the community who have been either furloughed, home working, or back from university.

What motivated you to sign up as a community emergency volunteer?

I had always had in mind that I would get involved in volunteering at some point in my life, but I think there’s a danger as a young person with university and employment pressures to think, “I’ll get myself set up first, then I’ll do it.”’ Even though I’m currently in a bit of a transitional phase, I felt that I was perfectly capable of giving up the odd evening and/or weekend to volunteer.

To my shame, I thought it might contain a bit of a busy-body element, but the reality is far from that and is quite admirable.

Can you tell us a bit about your role and how you support the community?

I was hesitant at first about the idea of a local community support group. To my shame, I thought it might contain a bit of a busy-body element, but the reality is far from that and is quite admirable.

We operate, to a certain degree, as a voluntary extension of a variety of public services, helping with some of the lower level tasks. For example, during the flooding, we helped the Environment Agency monitor water levels as well as the flood barrier. I’ve yet to be involved in such activities but I believed they’ve also supported the NHS in getting doctors to their area of operations during poor weather and helped the local authority transport department. With the group training and equipment we receive, you really get a sense you’re part of a professional outfit.

How do you fit the role in around your professional and social life?

It hasn’t taken up much time so far, but on the occasions that I’ve had a late evening or given up an odd day at the weekend, I just try to remember the many other people across the country who find time to volunteer with far busier schedules than me. 

Do I feel a sense of appreciation towards people who volunteer? Yes. Is there anything stopping me from doing something like that myself? No. I just want to feel like I’m contributing.

What do you get out of volunteering with the group? Why is it important to you?

For me fundamentally, it comes down to two questions: do I feel a sense of appreciation towards people who volunteer? Yes. Is there anything stopping me from doing something like that myself? No. I just want to feel like I’m contributing.

How do you see climate change affecting your role as a volunteer moving forwards?

Climate change played a part in my thinking when considering volunteering. I think a lot of people have a sense that we might be in stall for more frequent adverse weather conditions. As such, I think the training around the community response to these situations will get more of an impetus, even though it’s quite developed already for things like flooding and snow conditions. 

What would you say to encourage more young people to get involved in their local community emergency volunteer group?

Once you’ve done the odd thing with a voluntary group, be it an hour a week or a weekend a month, it tends to fit quite comfortably into your day-to-day life. I’d emphasise to younger people to just join the first meeting to find out more information and get an idea of what’s involved. And although this shouldn’t be the principal motivation, most employers love to see voluntary commitments on a CV. 

A note from senior coordinator, Paul, on the impact of COVID-19 on the group and how they’ve adapted during this challenging time:

Despite previously having trained with Wiltshire Council on public health emergencies, nothing prepared us for the intensity of work over the last 2 months. So far we have undertaken over 200 individual tasks from shopping and medication deliveries in partnership with the town’s spontaneous volunteer neighbourhood ‘street champion’ network, as well as putting up information posters around town on behalf of the Town Council and assisting with furniture deliveries for a homeless charity whose client was moving into an unfurnished flat.

Whatever the task, our volunteers have brought a friendly smile and in some cases, home-picked flowers to spread some cheer to those self-isolating.

Calum has fitted right into our COVID-19 response and, after some online training and mentoring, has even undertaken coordinator responsibilities, managing the volunteers as they respond to requests for help across our community.

It has been a privilege to be the senior coordinator for such a committed, cheerful, and eager group of volunteers, who have lost none of their enthusiasm after 10 weeks. They, along with every other volunteer across the country, should feel rightly proud of the important work they have done.

A close-up of two volunteers in front of a car, facing away from the camera. Both volunteers are dressed in high-vis clothing and are carrying boxes.
Photo credit: Lydia Booth Photography
A volunteer helps move a bed onto the back of a 4x4 vehicle. Another volunteer can be seen in the background.
Photo credit: Lydia Booth Photography

Thank you to Calum, the Bradford on Avon Town Council Community Emergency Volunteers, Lydia Booth and to all volunteers across the country for their incredible efforts and dedication to community resilience. Thank you!

Coronavirus case studies: NALC

Local (parish and town) councils across England are galvanising their staff and volunteers to take action and look after the most vulnerable in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the country being in lockdown, local councils are stepping up to coordinate emergency action plans which include support groups, buddy schemes and the collecting and delivering of shopping and medication. Others have donated funds and food to their local food bank. Some are putting vulnerable and self-isolating residents in touch with businesses who are delivering food. Many are collaborating with other local councils, principal authorities and third sector organisations – to ensure a coordinated effort to help as many people as possible.

Local councils, as the first tier of local government, are closest to their communities and their coordinated efforts are a crucial contribution to the national effort to keep on top of the pandemic.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has worked closely with the sector to gather a collection of case studies on local councils as an exemplar of the essential work that they are carrying out to help their communities during the pandemic.

Local councils, as the first tier of local government, are closest to their communities and their coordinated efforts are a crucial contribution to the national effort to keep on top of the pandemic. This show of leadership is seen through many examples, such as:

  • Cottenham Parish Council, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, organised 140 volunteers who are performing tasks such as shopping, collecting prescriptions and making friendly phone calls. Through the General Power of Competence, the council is using its website to become a pre-payment shopping system, in conjunction with the local Co-op store, to allow volunteers to multi-buy for residents. For elderly residents unable to use that system, the council is using a Monzo card which can be used by the volunteers to pay for the shopping directly.
  • Yate Town Council, Avon, is working with representatives of churches, Neighbourhood Watch groups and a Facebook group followed by 2,500 residents wishing to assist. It awarded the local food bank an emergency grant of £4,000, donated food from the closure of cafés, 750 Easter eggs and organised a virtual Easter competition. It has also given £4,500 to aid community groups and will provide activities and support to home educators.
  • Midhurst Town Council, Sussex, helped set up a volunteer group, Midhurst Angels, which is putting businesses, charitable societies, community groups and residents in touch with each other. It is coordinating the local café, the greengrocers, the butcher and other companies which have all offered to deliver food. It is also ensuring volunteers have been DBS checked and are First Aid trained.

The case studies showcase best practice and demonstrate actions that benefit not only those at high-risk and vulnerable but every resident. For more, read the full NALC Coronavirus case studies publication.

Claire Goldfinch is project officer at the National Association of Local Councils, having joined in 2019.
Established in 1947, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is a membership organisation and the only national body representing the interests of local (parish and town) councils. NALC works in partnership with county associations to support, promote and improve local councils.

Communities Prepared complements the work of NALC and other national organisations by providing training and support for town and parish councils looking to set up community emergency volunteer groups. For more information and to find out how we can help, please get in touch.  

Community resilience in the time of Covid-19

To say we are in the midst of an extreme event would be an understatement. As a result of Covid 19, the whole world is having to readjust to new routines and ways of living. Frontline workers and essential services are working harder than ever and at risk of burnout and getting ill themselves, or worse. This global pandemic is having an impact on our personal and professional lives and the role of the community is more important than ever.

But what do we mean and define as community now? Most people associate the word community with a geographical space, and although this is still true, we are now restricted from accessing those geographical spaces in the traditional way. We also often call our fitness group a community, or our profession, as well as our neighbourhood. These communities are moving to online spaces and are reiterating the importance of connection and shared experience within the context of this extreme situation we find ourselves in.

The passion and commitment that is taking place to create these online spaces is evidence that we as individuals and communities need to connect in order to thrive as well as survive.

Our recent research focused on looking at building community resilience in response to extreme events in Scotland. We held interactive workshops with communities, academics, local organisations, emergency services and local and national government to explore our understanding of resilience and supporting or developing communities.

Our group identified seven main components essential to developing and sustaining a resilient community. These were:

  1. Experience and shared memory: This is extremely evident at the moment in our current situation with Covid-19. We are learning what matters to us, what symbols and rituals of community are of particular importance and recognising the attachment we have to particular places. Collectively we are acknowledging our shared experience and the impact this is having on our sense of selves and community.
  2. Leadership, engagement and shared responsibility: We are likely still figuring this part out, but what is evident is that leadership is emerging in a variety of forms and there is a shared responsibility for supporting everyone through this experience. There has been clear leadership from employers and from government, and also from community groups, individuals and small businesses.
  3. Social ties and wider connections: Our need for connection is stronger than ever right now. The things that link us together such as sports, interests, cultural experiences, religious events, coffee shops, libraries and other shared spaces have all shifted into an online space. It is taking time to adjust to this new way of interacting , however the passion and commitment that is taking place to create these online spaces is evidence that we as individuals and communities need to connect in order to thrive as well as survive.
  4. Mindset, collective thinking, openness to adapt and cultural change: This is also an incredibly important aspect of community resilience that has emerged through this current Covid-19 crisis. We need to be able to adapt to this new way of being in order to keep going. We need to acknowledge that there are different ways of working, different ways of knowing and different ways of interacting with the physical and natural world that need to be embraced and celebrated. This is not an easy process and we need to support each other through these learnings.
  5. Integration, inclusivity, equity and diversity: With the move to online spaces and the recognition that this crisis is happening to communities all over the world, we are able to see how diverse we are in how we are managing with our new routines. With the prevalence of social media being at the front of how we are staying connected, we are able to see the importance of needing to include everyone’s voice and experience within our collective healing efforts.
  6. Communications, social support and co-ordination: Much like the above points, the importance of clear communication and co-ordination cannot be under-emphasised. We have seen how different countries and communities have responded to this crisis and the impact of sharing accurate information appropriately in order to co-ordinate logistical processes and support communities. Communities need to be able to trust communication they receive, but also need to be trusted to form themselves and establish communication, support and processes that are specific to their own needs.
  7. Training and identifying local needs: This experience is calling on a variety of skills and training in order to be recognised and nurtured. It is essential that communities are able to act on their own strengths and weaknesses in order to support their action in an emergency situation.

With the prevalence of social media being at the front of how we are staying connected, we are able to see the importance of needing to include everyone’s voice and experience within our collective healing efforts.

We have seen extraordinary community responses to managing this unprecedented time that we find ourselves in. From orchestras performing live from their own houses, to neighbours finally getting to know each other by supporting those that cannot leave their home to get the basic necessities, to coming together and clapping for those in the health and social care services that are working overtime to get us all through this. These acts are essential to building resilience so that our communities can come through this stronger than before.

Dr Sandra Engstrom
Bio: Dr Sandra Engstrom is a lecturer in social work at the University of Stirling. Her research tends to focus on the socio-emotional impact of climate change and community resilience to extreme events.

Thank you to the University of Stirling’s Extremes in Science and Society research programme for helping shape the development of Communities Prepared’s public health module. Click here for more information and to download for free.

Responding to Coronavirus: Communities Prepared launches Public Health Volunteer training

With the world battling the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and increasing levels of fear and uncertainty, harnessing the power of community action has never been more important. Across the world communities are adapting in the face of adversity. Many existing flood and emergency volunteer groups have extended their services to offer support to people self-isolating and new groups have formed to assist the most vulnerable with accessing food and medical supplies and reducing isolation.  In response to this, Communities Prepared has developed training resources to help Community Emergency Volunteers and spontaneous local groups better understand public health emergencies and their potential role in supporting community resilience at this time.

To ensure we provide the most up to date information that is reflective of latest government guidance on Covid-19 and responds to the needs of community volunteer groups, we will make periodical updates to our public health training module and cue card.

Our latest update was made on 30/03/2020 to reflect latest government guidance, the launch of the NHS volunteering programme and to incorporate feedback from key partner organisations. You can see the marked changes to the presentation and the cue card or simply download via the buttons above.

These resources have been designed to be used by anyone keen to volunteer and support vulnerable members of their community during a public health emergency such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. The information provided is reflective of the wider context, but can be adapted and tailored by volunteers and groups for use in their own community.

For any questions on these updates, please get in touch at

Course objectives

  • What is a public health emergency
  • Types of public health emergency
    • Pandemics
    • Temperature extremes
    • Hazardous chemical or bacteria release
    • Local communicable disease
  • Who does what in a public health emergency
  • Your role before a public health emergency
  • Your role during a public health emergency
  • Your role after a public health emergency
  • Safety during a public health emergency
  • Triggering a call out
  • Coronavirus pre-briefing

These materials are a clear, concise and informative way that community resilience and knowledge is developed, both for an event such as COVID-19 that we are currently facing, but also future events we will encounter with, for example, changing climates and the knock-on effects on communities, large and small.

Dr Tony Robertson, Lecturer in Social Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Stirling

Thank you to the University of Stirling’s Extremes in Science and Society research programme for helping shape the development of this public health module

The module has been invaluable in our community response to the ongoing public health emergency – it’s helped to inform both Councillors and volunteers, to make sure that people are acting safely and are getting the information they need to support each other.

Councillor Dom Newton, Leader of Bradford on Avon Town Council

Contact us to find out about online training sessions with one of our training officers or call our non-emergency advice line on 0117 910 3930 if you have any questions. You can download the training pack for your own use and adapt it accordingly.

Hear Senior Project Officer for the programme, Paul Robertson, delivering the training as a webinar to volunteers in Wiltshire. Listen here.

Our partners