Tag Archives: Flood Action

UK Community Resilience: Flood Action Groups and Volunteer Major Incident Response Teams lead the way

An update on the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum NYLRF Community Resilience and Emergency Plan scheme

Back in October 2015 I first introduced you to UK Community Resilience – a brilliant example of what really works and a follow up of the project. Several seasons of storms and flooding later as well as post 2016 National Flood Resilience Review, it’s high time I update you on progress, for much has indeed happened at North Yorkshire Resilience Forum (NYLRF) to raise community resilience and get people better prepared.

The pilot project originally started with 11 trail blazing communities two years ago reaching around 22’000 people. Now take a look at how this project has grown to include all these communities:

North Yorkshire Communi Resilience map

Green means Community Emergency Plans completed and orange means Community Emergency Plans are under way. This is amazing progress! 🙂 The map is updated regularly and you can see it for yourself by visiting the NYLRF Community Emergency Plans page (click the black and white map there to get to the live one).

One of the communities that has been on board since the word ‘go’ is Tadcaster Flood Action Group. They have a brilliant website and are also on twitter @TadFloodGroup and  facebook so check them out.

Tadcaster Flood Action Group

Their team of dedicated volunteers simply do amazing work and have vast experience since their town was divided by the famous bridge collapse thanks to the terrible 2015 winter storms namely Storm Eva and Storm Frank.

This year, to raise awareness even further, Tadcaster Flood Action Group is planning a bi-monthly newsletter distributed via the website, email and leaflet drop at properties at risk in Tadcaster and I for one cannot wait to see their first edition. Networking and organising local evens are, naturally, also on the agenda and they work with communities such as Ulleskelf Flood Action Group, Newton Kyme and Kirby Wharfe, sharing knowledge and experience to keep communities safe from flooding and build community resilience.

Community Preparedness Kits form one important aspect of the NYLRF Emergency Plan Scheme (together with plans and training), providing tools and resources to those on the front line.

Nicola Eades from Tadcaster Flood Action Group says:

“The community resilience kit which we received has been absolutely fabulous and is a kit that we have in our central base. It simply gives the group peace of mind and a preparation tool having it to hand.”

 

Robin Derry, senior Emergency Planner at North Yorkshire and creator of the NYLRF community resilience scheme already looks ahead, saying:

“The success shown by communities such as Tadcaster is helping to promote this scheme to other communities across the county resulting in a rapid upturn in community preparedness. The added incentive of a free emergency kit is definitely a bonus.

We have a number of events planned across the coming months to promote the scheme further and long list of communities wanting to get up and running with a plan.”

 

In addition, another recent successful example, Ingleton, has been reported in the press:

Ingleton Community Emergency Preparedness Plan

 

But it does not end here. In addition to Flood Action, I want to also tell you about another NYLRF collaboration to tackle community resilience from yet another vital angle: mental health. Meet Alex Sutcliffe and her Major Incident Response Team (MIRT) who will offer support in the aftermath of a traumatic incident such as major flooding to help those who may have been affected:


Find out more about what they do on the Post Incident Support page on the NYRLF website and keep your eyes on this blog which will soon post more about  @alexsutcliffe24 work who explains:

“The MIRT team are a very special team of volunteers who are always ready and willing to be called out to support communities or individuals through a traumatic experience.  We do this by offering emotional and practical support, whenever and wherever it is needed.  The MIRT bags from EVAQ8 have been invaluable as an additional resource to allow the volunteers to be prepared and raring to go with ‘life essentials’ and short notice.
When communities or individuals need the assistance of one or more of the MIRT volunteers, it is at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.  Being evacuated from your home at short notice can leave you feeling very vulnerable and ‘out of control’.  The skills of the MIRT team, ensure that anyone in our care is well looked after and kept safe until such a time that they are able to return to their own homes.”

 

The creation of this special team is a UK first and so all must be hugely congratulated for getting this off the ground.

 

Building community resilience in the UK remains a top priority and the NYLRF model approach is a brilliant example that works.

Hazards and risks are many, not just flooding as we are preparing for a world that’s a least 2°C warmer.

Clearly, Resilience and Preparedness roadblocks  have not damped the spirits of the many dedicated emergency planners and volunteers that make it happen in Yorkshire. It is my sincere hope that their example will go on to inspire many. Why not consider starting a Flood Action or Community Preparedness Group in your area? Get in touch with your Local Resilience Forum and find out what opportunities there are.

Be prepared – not scared!

Monika

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Community Resilience: Aid versus Preparedness

Building community resilience means building group solidarity and the connection between this, faith organisations and charities is well known.

Elsewhere I’ve written about Resilience – drawing on Faith for Strength and how faith organisations including places of worship could play an increasingly active role in preparedness. How effective responses from faith organisations are, especially in times of crisis, emergency or disaster is clear: often they are the first on the ground lending assistance and giving aid. In some instances, this is not unproblematic, however, as my counter terrorism colleagues will appreciate for the provision of aid and welfare can also lead to creating a so called ‘enabling environment’ for extremist groups. Maybe this is part of the reason why some of those who really are doing good unconditionally and purely from a humanitarian point-of-view have such a hard time. Maybe it’s simply because some of them look a little different.

Meet Ravi Singh:

Khalsa Aid has a long and outstanding track record of providing aid not only internationally, but also  – yes you are hearing correctly – here in the UK.

“This is our community, these are our countrymen who are in dire need. I never knew the amount of devastation until we drove around to get to this place, we had to go several different routes and it’s amazing. The floods … the fields are like lakes. It’s unbelievable, how will they recover from this disaster? I think we all need to pull together; it’s very very important. ”

Ravi Singh, 2014  Disaster Charity Khalsa Aid Helps (UK) Flood Victims

 

 

“The impact of the floods in the north of England and Scotland has been enormous. Yet the disaster has brought together people who might never normally mix – from the armies of Sikh and Muslim volunteers to the individuals sending care parcels.”

 

The image in The Guardian article How the floods united the north from which the above quote is taken, shows volunteers from Khalsa Aid, giving out food to villagers in the flood-hit Lancashire village of Croston.

…. and in July 2016 they were handing out water to stranded motorists during a heatwave

So, why am I telling you all this? While absolutely brilliant, it simply should not come to this in the first place. Not today, in the 21st century and not in the UK, a first world country.

What is to be done?

Places of worship as centres for community resilience

Previously I’ve talked about Community Resilience Building Blocks – it all starts with prepared individuals which puts the onus on individuals and why that is tricky in Resilience and Preparedness Roadblocks: what stops us? While fundamentally ‘preparedness must begin individually, we also all know that real strength lies in social groups and solidarity; see Altruism and why it pays to be kind.  As I mentioned earlier, one way of building community resilience is by drawing on Faith for Strength but it goes further, for places of worship can do a lot more than prayer and can become the nexus for community preparedness, responding to spiritual as well as bodily needs during times of real crisis.

This approach is already happening in North Yorkshire. Last year the North Yorkshire Resilience Forum created a successful evidence-based model approach which you can read more about in UK Community Resilience, a brilliant example of what works.  It is my and other people’s sincere hope that in the future this kind of forward thinking, pro-active model will be supported and made available much more widely across many parts of the UK. It is also my hope that eventually such models will tackle and include food security issues.

Places of worship are important for another reason: security

The UK Government Home Office reacted swiftly in the aftermath of the horrific attacks in France on Jacques Hamel, the 85 year old priest at St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray.

While certainly a step in the right direction, the funding scheme is sadly limited to securing property, rather than people.  Being rooted in (hate) crime prevention thinking, this is not surprising.  What a brilliant opportunity this could be to broaden capacities and capabilities!

Places of worship, similar to schools, feature as areas of refuge and shelter-in-place on many an emergency planner’s community emergency plan. Why not also provide the wider resources needed to to communities so that they can respond in a major incident, emergency or disaster? I leave you with this question on this hottest September days since 1911 and also with a link to our newest information hub for places of worship evaq8.co.uk/PlacesOfWorship

Wishing you a safe and prepared rest of the week.

Monika  

This post is also accessed by https://evaq8.co.uk/blog/community-resilience-aid-versus-preparedness/

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UK Community Resilience – a brilliant example of what really works

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.

source: https://www.laresilience.org/images/community-resilience-ovals.pngWhat 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.

Monika

[edited to add: part 2 of the story has now been published; or simply look under the category ‘Yorkshire Model’].


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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: 238253, 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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UK Flooding – Community Resilience is the only answer

Community efforts in clearing floods in Cornwall

Is this crazy weather ever going to stop?
This question must have been asked millions of times this last week. I’ve read it in the newspapers and magazines, heard it on radio, on the streets, in buses and the tube, on TV. The UK’s resilience, our resilience to cope, adapt, prevail and move on is being sorely tested.

Looking back at the heart-breaking images from the Somerset Levels, the South West and East and noting this weekend’s new severe flood warnings for substantial parts of the Thames Valley it is hard to keep optimistic. It is hard not to descend into depression, to keep up mental agility, thinking flexibly and accurately, neither over- nor underestimating the severity of the impact to our lives and that of loved ones. It is hard to find the energy and willingness to go on and change, willing to find new strategies and simply to continue.

Where is the strength going to come from? How can it be tapped? In ‘resilience speak’ this concerns two key ‘ingredients’ that make up resilience:

character strength – identifying the top strengths in oneself and others, relying on one’s strengths to overcome challenges and meet goals, cultivating a strength approach throughout, including these key virtues (positive psychology)

connections – building strong relationships through positive and effective communication, empathy, a willingness to ask for and to offer help

Both these key ‘ingredients’ to resilience go hand in hand, neither can really be separated out.

Character strength is never built in isolation. How strong we can be crucially depends on our early and continued social connections throughout life. In turn the strength of our social groups, small and large, are nourished and propelled by inspired individuals that choose to be extraordinary. These extraordinary times have produced extraordinary communities in all flood affected parts of the United Kingdom.

media imageAs a somewhat removed Swiss observer yet from ‘within so to speak as someone who lives here I am continually amazed at the British: the speed and boundless generosity with which communities have come together, pooling resources and sheer man (and woman and child!) power to help each another as well as to offer help across wider areas. In fact, generosity is and was so overwhelming that this morning the local newspaper Cheddarvalley Gazette reports that the Westfield Church flood rest centre in Bridgwater had to close their intake of food donations. However, many flood relief funds are active or are just being formed:

Somerset: Somerset Emergency Relief Fund; Farming Communities need help with animal feed (Farmers Weekly); donate via Just Giving (donations should be marked “For Somerset Farmers”); Rotary UK flood appeal for Somerset
Southwest: Devon Flood Fund; Tauheedul Relief Trust;
West and North:
RSPB appeal to help repair extensive damage at Snettisham, Havergate, Dingle and other nature reserves; EDP Norfolk Flood Appeal is ongoing

Also see Storify for more ways to help, courtesy of @wildwalkerwoman via @ThirlwallAssoc Thanks!

Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, was reported in The Telegraph on Sunday suggesting to “spend aid abroad to stop flooding in the UK”. Calls to divert foreign aid are not new, i.e. BBC last September on austerity. While showing flexible thinking and a willingness to try new approaches, simply diverting foreign aid is unfortunately not entirely straight forward. How much is the UK spending? According to the Guardian last year, the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) is expected to rise to GBP11.3bn when it hits the 0.7% target. With a population of about 63 million, the figure works out at roughly GBP137 per Brit. This is part of a long-term resilience strategy as David Cameron argued and in everyone’s interests to build a more prosperous world, otherwise the problems of conflict, mass migration and uncontrollable climate change “will come and visit us at home”. Well, it seems the latter certainly has.

While the politicians wrangle, let us remember that the Disasters Emergency Commitee DEC has raised over GBP90 million for the Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines all mostly from private donations which works out to an average of just GBP1.43 donated per person living in the UK. Despite recent hardships, anyone here luckily can afford to give GBP1.50 or 2.- to help a neighbour in need.

Monika


Thank you for sharing, raising awareness for Community Resilience and Emergency Preparedness.

For more EVAQ8 blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For FREE resources head over to our Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness. Thank you!

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