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There are many ways to safely support your community before, during and after an emergency.

Getting involved with voluntary and community groups allows you to help others in your local area, while learning new skills and building friendships.

You can also talk to your friends, family and neighbours about preparing for emergencies, and check in on them when an emergency happens to see if they need support.

Here’s Ready Scotland’s guide to some of the different ways you can get involved based on your availability and the skills you have or want to develop.

Sharing information 

Getting timely and accurate information to people before or during emergency situations will help them to prepare for disruption and know where they can get the right support. 

  • Speak to your friends, family and neighbours about the advice on Ready Scotland and pass on information about the support available.
  • Consider creating an instant messaging group or other closed online social network for your street or building – these can be an important source of information and support during an emergency.
  • Be careful to only share information from trusted sources. 

Your community

Helping your community to prepare for risks and to respond when disruption occurs will help to reduce the impact of these events and support your community’s recovery too. Here’s how:

  • Contact your local Community Council to find out more about how it supports local residents through challenging times and how you can get involved. Many Community Councils also have an emergency plan, which helps them to consider their local risks and the resources within their community;
  • Your community may have a Neighbourhood Watch Group, or you could consider setting up a new group, bringing together like-minded people;
  • Other local groups, including food banks and welfare support groups are always in need of committed volunteers. Volunteer Scotland has a wealth of information about opportunities within local and national groups.

Communities around Scotland help each other through emergencies in many different ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Clearing local access paths of snow and ice and putting down grit, if you’re fit, well and able.
  • Helping neighbours to install household flood protection, such as laying out sandbags or putting up flood barriers.
  • Checking up on relatives or neighbours who might need help during a power cut.

Visit the prepare and respond sections of Ready Scotland for further advice on practical ways that you or your group can support your community.

You can also check out Ready Scotland’s Community Resilience Checklist to support your group’s conversations about resilience.

Volunteer responders

Whether practical, medical or emotional support, or assisting with search and rescue or transport services, specialist voluntary organisations like the British Red Cross, St Andrews Ambulance or Scottish Mountain Rescue make a huge contribution during emergencies.

  • Go directly to the volunteer responder organisations that interest you and best suit your skills
  • Search for Reserve Volunteer opportunities through the British Red Cross 
  • Search for more general volunteer vacancies through Volunteer Scotland

Emergency response activities can be complex and dangerous. Don’t put yourself at risk and only join the response if you are asked to do so by the emergency service or other statutory or voluntary sector responder organisation coordinating the activity.

Emergency services

Volunteer, reserve and retained posts with the emergency services are challenging and highly rewarding. These roles can be a route into a career in the emergency services and are vital to the safety and security of local communities across Scotland.

Fundraising for local emergencies

When emergencies happen locally, you or your community group may consider creating a fundraising appeal. This can be a quick and impactful way of gathering funds for displaced or affected people.

However, managing and distributing funds can be complex and challenging. The best way to get financial donations to those impacted is through an established charity who follows the Code of Fundraising Practice. Promoting appeals from experienced charities through community websites and social media accounts can support the overall emergency response.

If funds are being raised locally, it is vital that you follow the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The Fundraising Regulator has a 10 step guide to setting up a fundraising appeal as well as clear guidance about online fundraising.

If an emergency has a Scotland-wide impact, or if there are lots of smaller fundraising campaigns for the same emergency situation, then the National Emergencies Trust may be able to provide a national platform for fundraising or can assist in the coordination, consolidation and distribution of multiple funds. Contact us to find out more.

Ready Scotland also has guidance on supporting humanitarian crises and making donations in a safe and effective way.

Stay Informed

Ready Scotland regularly publishes alerts on both Twitter and Facebook. Follow and like our pages to keep up to date wherever you are.