British Red Cross

COVID19: RED CROSS APPEAL FOR KETTERING BOROUGH BASED VOLUNTEERS

With the Borough’s businesses on the close due to the outbreak of COVID19, the Red Cross are appealing for volunteers to help during the growing crisis.

Community Reserve Volunteers are needed when a major crisis hits and members of the public are often quick to offer their support. Properly co-ordinated, this can be invaluable. By recruiting Community Reserve Volunteers, the Red Cross can harness the goodwill of the public in advance of a crisis, so that when an emergency happens, those registered in that area can play an active and immediate role in helping.

To sign up by e-mailing: reserves@redcross.org.uk or by clicking here.

THE ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER

What is the Community Reserve Volunteer initiative?

In October 2017, the British Red Cross launched their nationwide Community Reserve Volunteer initiative where the public can register their interest in helping their local community in the event of a large-scale crisis.

When a major crisis hits, members of the public are often quick to offer their support. Properly coordinated, this help can be invaluable.

By recruiting Community Reserve Volunteers, the Red Cross can harness the kindness and energy of the public in advance of a crisis, so that when an emergency happens, those registered in that area can play an active and immediate role in helping.

They will carry out practical tasks, allowing our existing volunteers and staff to concentrate on the more demanding and immediate tasks they have been trained for. 

We hope to recruit over 10,000 Community Reserve Volunteers across the UK in the next two years.

Why are Community Reserve Volunteers needed?

In light of the various UK emergencies that have occurred over the last few years, from the south of England floods in 2013, to the Grenfell Tower fire, there have been increasing calls to more efficiently and effectively utilise the time and talents of the general public in times of disaster.

Despite people’s best intentions, any sudden influx of spontaneous volunteers at the scene of an emergency can prove challenging. If left uncoordinated, their presence has the potential to hamper operations.

The Community Reserve Volunteer initiative will help manage situations like this and make the most of people’s goodwill in an effective way.

The benefits of a project like this mean that people will be able to contribute to the official multi-agency response and perform key purposeful tasks under the direction of the Red Cross.

When will Community Reserve Volunteers be asked to help?

Community Reserve Volunteers will only be called on when a major emergency occurs in their area.  They will carry out practical tasks, leaving our existing volunteers and staff free to concentrate on more technical tasks and things they have been trained to do, such as providing practical and emotional support directly to people in crisis. 

What will Community Reserve Volunteers do in a crisis?

While on the ground, Community Reserve Volunteers will assist regular Red Cross volunteers with practical tasks relevant to the crisis, like preparing kit and equipment, filling sandbags, sorting supplies and making refreshments. Tasks will be dependent on the needs of the specific emergency.

They won’t work unsupervised, or directly with people affected by emergencies. This extra help allows the emergency services, local councils and regular Red Cross volunteers to provide even more support to people in crisis.

Who can become a Community Reserve Volunteer?

This role is perfect for people who would naturally feel the urge to help during a major emergency but don’t have the time to commit to volunteering all year round.

Anyone aged 18 or over and living in the UK can become a Community Reserve Volunteer.

People will need to have a mobile phone so that they can be deployed via SMS, an active email account, photo ID, and be willing to undertake some short online training. 

They will also need to be physically and mentally fit enough to carry out the tasks during an emergency, and uphold the fundamental principles of the Red Cross when requested to help.

How do Community Reserve Volunteers sign up?

Those interested can sign-up online through a registration process that takes less than ten minutes.

Individuals will need to watch a short online training video and fill in our online form before they are ready to be deployed. Once registered, they will receive a volunteer handbook which provides useful information on their role.

They will then be contacted by the Red Cross in the event of a major emergency in their local area. 

Do Community Reserve Volunteers receive training?

Training for Community Reserve Volunteers will be simple, reflecting the nature of the role. They are asked to watch an online training video and answer some questions to show they understand what’s required.

Additional task-specific training will be provided at the scene by a fully trained Red Cross volunteer or staff member. Community Reserve Volunteers will always be supervised by fully trained Red Cross personnel.

Because they will not be dealing directly with the public, and will only be carrying out unskilled manual tasks, they will not require the same level of training as our emergency response volunteers

Do Community Reserve Volunteers undertake a DBS/ PVG check?

Community Reserve Volunteers will not be required to undertake DBS/PVG checks due to the types of activities that they will undertake. 

Community Reserve Volunteers will always be supervised by a designated Red Cross team leader when a crisis occurs.  In addition, they will never work directly with vulnerable individuals, or unsupervised. 

I thought the British Red Cross already had emergency response volunteers?

The Red Cross already has a strong team of emergency response volunteers situated all over the UK who have lots of experience and thorough training in directly supporting people in crisis with practical and emotional support.

Community Reserve Volunteers provide a different kind of support, carrying out practical, behind-the-scenes tasks that will give emergency response personnel more time to offer the face-to-face assistance that they are trained to provide

Being a Community Reserve Volunteer is perfect for those who would naturally feel the urge to help during a major emergency but don’t have the time to commit to volunteering all year round.

How will they be deployed?

Community Reserve Volunteers are notified of an incident in their local area via SMS. If they are able to help, they simply respond ‘yes’. They are then sent further details of the incident, including a meeting location.

On arrival, Community Reserve Volunteers receive a briefing, workwear and any equipment and training they need for their role.

Who manages Community Reserve Volunteers on scene?

Community Reserve Volunteers will always be supervised by a designated Red Cross team leader.  They will receive a full briefing and any relevant training required for the tasks they will perform.

Are Community Reserve Volunteers insured?

Community Reserve Volunteers are fully insured by the Red Cross.

Will Community Reserve Volunteers wear workwear?

Community Reserve Volunteers will be issued with a Red Cross Hi-Viz vest and lanyard so that they are easily identifiable as part of the response. They will also be issued with any other equipment required for the activities they are undertaking.

Community Reserve Volunteers will be easily differentiated from our existing personnel, and other responders at the scene of an emergency.

How will Community Reserve Volunteers assist emergency response agencies?

The Community Reserve Volunteer project will help to alleviate some of the potential issues around the management of spontaneous volunteers by providing a coordinated way through which those inclined to volunteer spontaneously can support locally in the event of a large-scale crisis. 

Having the additional pool of Community Reserve Volunteers will also increase the capacity of the Red Cross to support partner agencies significantly, and undertake a more diverse range of activities in support of our partners.

What about members of the public who still arrive to volunteer spontaneously? Can the Red Cross sign them up as Community Reserve Volunteers?

The bigger question regarding spontaneous volunteers still needs further thought, but we believe this innovative contribution comes at the right time and has the potential to help more people in crisis.

Given the quick and easy sign-up route to become a Community Reserve Volunteer, it would be possible for spontaneous volunteers to sign up at the time of the emergency and be utilised within a response. This would be dependent on the specific needs of the emergency, and where there is a requirement for additional Community Reserve Volunteers above the number that are available to support.

Will Red Cross now be managing spontaneous volunteers too?

The Red Cross will not be taking on the management of spontaneous volunteers at the scene of an incident. By pre-registering Community Reserve Volunteers before a major incident, we hope that fewer people will act spontaneously.

The Community Reserve Volunteer initiative provides a valuable route for agencies to signpost spontaneous volunteers to, so that they can play an active role in helping out in any future emergencies within their area.

To sign up by e-mailing: reserves@redcross.org.uk or by clicking here.