Community reserve volunteers needed

Nov 13, 2017

Red Cross community reserve volunteers
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Red Cross setting up local taskforces

The British Red Cross is hoping to recruit 10,000 new volunteers who will be ready to help others in their local area, if there is a major crisis.

Local teams of community reserve volunteers

The ‘community reserve volunteers’ will form a practical taskforce, working together as a team to help the neighbourhood by doing the things that will improve the situation.

For example, in case of major flooding, it could be filling sandbags, preparing equipment or sorting out food for the community.

The campaign is starting in communities which have experienced serious floods recently, such as Cumbria, Somerset and North Wales.

But the Red Cross is aiming for 10,000 volunteers by the end of 2019, across Britain, ready to help in any kind of major emergency, such as the Grenfell Tower fire, or the terror attacks in Manchester and London.
 
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Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the British Red Cross, says:

“We’ve seen, through the events of this year, including the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster, extraordinary compassion shown by ordinary people from local communities, when a crisis hits. It shows you don’t always need special skills to help others. Small acts of kindness, and coming together as a team, can make a huge difference.

“We recognise people have busy lives and can’t always commit to volunteering all year round. This project is a way for people to be there to help others in their communities, by registering their willingness in advance. We would only call upon people at times of major crisis, which hopefully won’t happen often, but when it does, and extra help is needed, people will have the opportunity to do small things that make a big difference. There are many different ways of helping your community, but this is a new one.”

 
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Sign up online, no long-term commitment

If you are put off the idea of becoming part of the volunteer reserve, because it might take up too much of your time, you needn’t worry.

The Red Cross has designed a simple online sign-up process which only takes ten minutes to complete, at www.redcross.org.uk/reserves (link will open in a new browser window) You will watch a short video, answer some quick questions and register your details.

The role requires no long-term commitment or extensive training.

In the event of a major emergency in your local area, you would be called up by text message.

As long as you are over 18, have a mobile phone, and you would be prepared to carry out practical tasks during an emergency in your neighbourhood, you will be very welcome.
 
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Nepal earthquake motivates Surrey volunteer

Mother-of-two Taran Vernon, 45, from Farnham, was motivated to sign up after surviving the Nepal earthquake.

The experience made her want to help if something happened closer to home:

“We were doing a charity hike at Everest and were 500 metres from base camp on an exposed bit of mountain. The ground was shaking for 45 seconds. We heard a rumble to our left as an avalanche of rubble came through. We were very lucky it missed us because you just couldn’t tell which direction it was coming from.

“We walked back through villages avoiding major cracks and unstable ground. Namche Bazaar, which had been buzzing with music and activity two days before, was now just rubble. The worst thing was seeing people just sitting there, their homes gone, mourning their missing family members.”

Taran and her group donated all their belongings to those affected and, once home, her experiences motivated her to sign up as a community reserve volunteer.

“That’s why I connected with this so much. It’s something that definitely hit a nerve. If something like this happened in my community, I’d want to be able to do something to help.”

 
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Further reading and resources

British Red Cross has researched how better first-aid skills could ease the pressure on A&E

Volunteers are needed on a regular basis to help tackle loneliness – read about the Red Cross Community Connectors initiative

 
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