Special column - The British Red Cross with Simon Lewis

A group of British Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteers.
A group of British Red Cross Community Reserve Volunteers.

A new report published by the British Red Cross and Aviva shows that the majority of people in Yorkshire and the Humber want to help if disaster strikes in their community but would not know what to do.

The report, ‘When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities’, reveals that nine in 10 people surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber say that if an emergency happened in their community they would want to get involved, yet 52% of people would not know what to do if a disaster struck.

Simon Lewis.

Simon Lewis.

The British Red Cross, in partnership with Aviva, is calling on people across Yorkshire and the Humber to sign up to a new scheme called Community Reserve Volunteers, to help create a national network of people ready to help in a local emergency.

The scheme hopes to recruit 10,000 Community Reserve Volunteers across the UK by the end of 2019. It takes just 10 minutes to sign up.

The volunteers don’t need any specialist skills and will be called in if crisis strikes in their area. That can be anything from a terrorist incident or major fire to flooding or extreme weather incidents.

It’s quick and easy to sign up online and Community Reserve Volunteers will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community they could help with.

They will undertake vital jobs such as packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding.

The British Red Cross last year experienced one of the busiest years since World War Two, assisting 9,300 people in more than 1,500 emergencies across the UK, including terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the Grenfell Tower fire.

Three in four people surveyed in Yorkshire and the Humber who had been involved in a major emergency felt there was more their community could have done to help if they knew how.

The research also highlighted that people want to help, but don’t always know how.

Rachel Thompson is one of those who answered the call to become a CRV last autumn.

A social work student at Durham University, she spent her first placement working for an educational children’s charity in Peru. When a flood hit the area, she saw first-hand the impact an emergency can have on a community.

“My experience (there) taught me that effective interventions should be co-ordinated at a local level, by the people within a community who know it and its needs best. The CRV project seemed to be centred around this kind of approach, and that really appealed to me,” Rachel said:“The incidents in London and Manchester last summer really brought it home to me the important role of emergency response.

“While we all hope that we won’t see any such tragedies again, it’s good to know I am part of a team ready to respond across the country if the worst were to happen.”

The British Red Cross responds to a UK emergency every four hours. Last year’s major emergencies brought tragedy to so many people, but we witnessed remarkable acts of kindness and saw that people really want to give practical help when crisis hits.

By creating a national task force of Community

Reserve Volunteers we want to put local people at the heart of emergency response, to help communities rebuild and recover faster.

Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. It’s quick and easy to sign up online and Community

Reserve Volunteers don’t need specialist skills. We need your help now more than ever.

To be a Community

Reserve Volunteer you don’t need specialist skills to make a difference, and simple acts of kindness can make a big difference. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted.

To learn more about the British Red Cross’ Community Reserve Volunteer scheme with Aviva and how to sign up, visit: redcross.org.uk/reserves