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British Red Cross to recruit hundreds of community reserve volunteers

Community reserve volunteers receiving a briefing from a Red Cross emergency response volunteer. Credit Andrew Hassan (UNP)

[T]he British Red Cross in Cumbria today launches a campaign to recruit hundreds of volunteers willing to drop everything during a major emergency to help people in crisis in their own community.

When disaster hits, ‘Community Reserve Volunteers’ will form a practical taskforce, working as a team to do anything from filling sandbags to sorting food for their flooded community.

It is hoped the new teams will be able to provide valuable help if emergencies like like the widespread floods across Cumbria  in December 2015, were ever to be repeated.

It only takes ten minutes to sign up, and volunteers will then be called out by text when they’re needed.

Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the Red Cross says: “We’ve seen through the sad events of this year, including the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the extraordinary levels of kindness shown by ordinary people from local communities, when a crisis hits. It shows you don’t need special skills to help others. Small acts of kindness, and coming together as a team, can make a huge difference.

“This project is a way of harnessing the goodwill and kindness of the public for future emergencies, by signing people up in advance. We recognise people have busy lives and can’t always commit to volunteering all year round. We would only call upon people at times of major local crisis, which hopefully won’t happen often, but when they do, and extra help is needed, people will have the opportunity to make a big difference. There are many different ways of helping your community, but this is a new one.”

People can sign up in ten minutes online at www.redcross.org.uk/reserves by watching a short video, answering some quick questions and registering their details.

Modelled on similar initiatives run by the Dutch and Austrian Red Cross the new volunteering role aims to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers nationwide by November 2019, targeting areas most prone to flooding and weather-related emergencies first, in order to have teams in place this winter.

Simon Lewis added: “When a crisis hits the Red Cross has established agreements with local councils and the emergency services, who call us to ask for our help. Once we have a team of Community Reserve Volunteers in place, we will work with our partners before and during emergencies to identify key tasks the new volunteer teams could do, to help those affected.”

To sign up as a Community Reserve Volunteer visit: www.redcross.org.uk/reserves

Volunteers must be over 18, have a mobile phone and be prepared to carry out practical tasks during an emergency.

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