Community Resilience

All local agencies are fully committed to responding to and supporting our communities in times of an emergency.

However, Emergency Services will always have to prioritise those in greatest need during an emergency, especially where life is in danger. Similarly, utility companies may struggle to provide services to everybody, and may have to divert resources in order to keep crucial buildings, such as hospitals, functioning.

To minimise the impact of such situations on your own household and those around you, the most powerful response is for communities to get together themselves beforehand to produce their own Community Emergency Plans.

What is a community?

There are two types of communities that are associated with community resilience. Communities of place are probably the most commonly thought about, which involves neighbours and people living in a similar geographic location. The other type of communities are those based on commonly held interests, regardless of where they live. These communities of interest come in many forms, from faith groups to sporting clubs, and voluntary organisations.

Could your community cope?

Regardless of the type of community you are part of, the decision to engage in community resilience can be as simple as asking yourself the following three questions:

  • Are you aware of the risks you and your community might face, eg flooding?
  • How can you help yourself and those around you during an emergency?
  • What can you do to get involved in emergency planning in your community?

Many communities already help each other in times of need, but experience shows that those who are prepared cope better during an emergency. This was particularly evident during the severe flooding experienced in the area in 2013/2014. Communities with local knowledge, enthusiasm and information are a great asset, and a Community Emergency Plan can help to ensure that these efforts are channelled in the most effective and efficient way possible.

What is a Community Emergency Plan?

Simple community emergency plans are designed to identify:

  • a coordination/meeting point (eg village hall)
  • short-term safe refuge places for people displaced from their home
  • emergency volunteers
  • useful emergency equipment
  • vulnerable people in the community
  • useful emergency contacts

A template for starting your own community plan can be found on the Surrey County Council website.

Our partners at the Environment Agency have produced a comprehensive guide on creating a Community Flood Plan.

By planning in advance, you will not only be better prepared to respond in an emergency, but you will be better equipped to recover in the long-term.

Get involved - Get prepared

Spelthorne Borough Council, along with our partners at the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council, have been working on preparing local communities to cope in times of emergency. We have been liaising with leading members of community groups in the area, providing advice and support on how to create a community plan that best aligns with the efforts of the emergency services and responding agencies. We also hold events to bring community groups together to discuss their plans, with the aim of sharing knowledge and experience.

Volunteering during an emergency

If you are interested in setting up a community group, or already have informal arrangements in place and would like to know more, please contact us and you will be placed on the mailing list for important news and events.

Similarly, please do not hesitate to contact us If you have any questions about community preparedness, or would like to meet with one of the team directly to discuss potential or existing plans.

It is difficult to involve 'spontaneous' volunteers in the midst of an emergency. Please do not travel until you know there is something you can help with, as during an emergency agencies / organisations will be out responding to issues on the ground and there might not be something that you can help with. You may want to offer your skills/ experience to an existing voluntary organisation, however please do contact them in advance of your arrival to ensure you can contribute to the effort in an effective way.

We encourage local residents to find community resilience groups in their area before a flood, and explore how they may be able to get involved in supporting these groups.

For information on how to link to formal groups in your area, please contact info@appliedresilience.org

IMPORTANT: It will not be possible to answer such enquiries during an incident.