A couple of posts ago when talking about heatwaves I casually mentioned some exciting developments in how EVAQ8 is getting involved in Community Resilience in England’s largest county. If you thought Yorkshire you were right. Actually, I was referring to North Yorkshire, with 3212 square miles of glorious landscape and many diverse communities one of the most fascinating places in the UK – or so I think, impatient to explore and take my camera up north at the next opportunity.
But let me start at the beginning and introduce you to the simply brilliant North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum or NYLRF team. They are doing something new and amazing: they’ve come up with a robust plan to engage their local people pro-actively with Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.
The best bit is: their strategy is really working and I am thrilled and honored to share these developments with you as we go along. For this is where all this gets really exiting: it is an active work in progress right now which means we are at the very forefront of some pretty ground-breaking stuff:
the NYLRF Community Emergency Plan Scheme
Preparedness & Planning – first some background: why, who, where and what
The ‘why’ is easy: it’s the law. Since 2004 under the Civil Contingency’s Act, Category 1 responders have a duty to prepare and plan for emergencies. There are 38 Local Resilience Forums in England and 5 in Wales which are at the core of the national network that also includes ReadyScotland and Northern Ireland Civil Contingencies Branch.
Not only must the LRFs warn and inform the public, they also must promote preparedness and resilience to businesses (Business Continuity) and to the public in general. Naturally it’s a bit more complex than that but for my purposes here that about covers the who, where and what. However, I’ve not touched on the concept of Community Resilience everyone is talking about these days just yet. So….
What is ‘Community Resilience’ and how does it tie in with Preparedness and Planning?
Definitions are important as they help make a concept practical which in turn triggers policy changes and the flow of resources (see earlier post What Disaster, Why Preparedness). So let’s start with ‘Community’: that is simply a group of people either living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common1. The theory2 goes (and it’s quite intuitive really) that well prepared – meaning informed and equipped – individuals, families, neighborhoods, workplaces, faith organisations etc. that closely interact are better capable of mobilizing resources for response and recovery. Or in other words:
Resilience is based on a culture of preparedness (Ready Scotland, 2013)
So far it is quite straight forward but now it gets trickier because ‘Community Resilience’ as a concept means many things to many people and there is a considerable ongoing debate. Rather than bore you to tears let me simply state that I found the CARRI Report definition (2013, p10) one of the most useful:
Community resilience is the capability to anticipate risk, limit impact and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution and growth in the face of turbulent change.
What I particularly like is the focus on capability. It implies inherent and latent capacities. It also ties neatly to preparedness which is not just about needs and liabilities but also about assets. In my view this creates an empowering shift and starting point to mobilize engagement which, given the right momentum, may overcome even learnt helplessness and apathy. Thus
Community Resilience is
- an inherent and dynamic community property
- a community adaptation to adversity that leads to positive outcomes with respect to community functionality
- a way to compare communities in terms of their ability to adapt
(Pfefferbaum et al, 2015)
Community Resilience: right input – right output/engagement
Community Resilience efforts are time and relationship intensive (Houston, 2015). However, it does not need to be complicated. Committed leadership is crucial and with this we are back to our story and the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum Team. So, what happened?
Earlier this year NYLRF put an upgraded strategy in place.
The right ingredients for Community Resilience – a Success Story and Model approach
Having identified parishes as one of their key target communities, NYLRF adapted their existing scheme with an ambitious set of incentives which made the following assets available to their parishes:
- free practical resources: Emergency Kit (comprehensive resources including winter preparedness that were specifically designed by NYLRF and EVAQ8) and a reduced cost defibrillator (Yorkshire Ambulance)
- free information: comprehensive resources and templates to aid in preparing plans as well as warning and informing the local community
- free training: British Red Cross first aid training and Yorkshire Ambulance Service defibrillator training for the community
This NYLRF Community Emergency Plan scheme not only provides the perfect mix of practical support (information, practical templates and kit, valuable training), it also ticks all the right boxes from the point of view of the latest research and good practice; it represents
- focus on community engagement
- bio-ethical principles, ie. autonomy, beneficence
- emphasizing assets and needs in a multi-hazard approach relevant to the local context
- encouraging skills and development
(Pfefferbaum et al, 2015)
So, it’s no surprise that NYLRF is highly successful in promoting and building community resilience!
Just how successful I will share with you next time when I write more about their current impact, what other types communities may also benefit and about other strategies such as NYLRF’s pro-active participation in key promotional events .
In the meantime, please feel free to check out the North Yorkshire website, (twitter @NYorksPrepared ), the additional resources/references listed below and resources through our info gateway Emergency Plan.
How resilient is your community?
Have a great week.
[edited to add: part 2 of the story has now been published; or simply look under the category ‘Yorkshire Model’].
thank you for sharing and helping raise awareness for Community Resilience and Preparedness!
References / Resources
- 1 Oxford Dictionary | might seem trivial but it is important. There are many different kinds of communities with specific and unique preparedness requirements; something I will explore later
- 2 Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory of development and resilience (Boon et al, 2012 in Prior and Hagmann, 2014;)
- – Houston, Brian (2015) Bouncing Forward: Assessing Advances in Community Resilience Assessment, Intervention and Theory to Guide Future Work; American Behavioral Scientist, 2015, Vol.59(2), pp.175-180
- – Pfefferbaum, Betty; Pfefferbaum, Rose and Van Horn, Richard (2015) Community Resilience Interventions: Participatory, Assessment-Based, Action-Oriented Processes. American Behavioral Scientist February 2015 59: 238–253, first published online on September 22, 2014 doi:10.1177/0002764214550298
- – Prior, Timothy and Hagmann, Jonas (2014) Measuring resilience: methodological and political challenges of a trend security concept, Journal of Risk Research, 2014, Vol.17(3), p.281-298
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