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Building Resilient Communities

Executive Summary

Community resilience is defined by the Scottish Government as:

“Communities and individuals harnessing resources and expertise to help themselves prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, in a way that complements the work of the emergency responders.”

It is based on a culture of preparedness, in which individuals, communities and organisations take responsibility to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

Preparing Scotland, Scottish Guidance on Resilience (2016) states that all responders should support the development of community resilience and should apply and encourage an innovative approach. Building community resilience should not be seen as an add-on, but should be carried out as part of responders’ day-to-day activities. The potential return on investment for responders in promoting community resilience is high, as they can unlock skills, knowledge and resources held by the entire community.

This guidance recommends that responders consider best practice, in order to maximise the effectiveness of their work with individuals, community groups, private sector businesses and voluntary sector organisations, to help make themselves more resilient. In line with other Preparing Scotland guidance, it is drawn from existing good practice in Scottish communities.

Supporting materials, including a number of good practice case studies, a range of useful resources and materials, and The Guide to Emergency Planning for Community Groups, 2020 are available.

It is important that responders take a joined-up approach to building community resilience, and that it is recognised as not being the responsibility of one organisation alone, or of a single functional team within any organisation. It is recommended that responders consider the following roles:

Scottish Government (SG): Setting strategic direction, determining national policy, developing national resources and carrying out national-level analytical work.

Regional Resilience Partnerships (RRPs): Bringing together all the relevant organisations in an area to develop an effective approach to dealing with emergencies. They have robust plans in place to respond to all kinds of events. These plans are regularly tested in joint exercises and during real emergencies.

Local Authorities: Leading on engagement with communities, promoting and supporting community emergency planning, promoting resilience education through schools, supporting local training and exercising with community groups.

All responders (including voluntary sector): Contributing to public information campaigns, services aimed at household and individual resilience, initiatives such as first aid training and participating in education initiatives.

This guidance advocates taking an approach to building community resilience which is based on the concept of community development. This means providing individuals and groups of people with the knowledge and skills they need to effect change in their own communities, through a process of engagement, education, empowerment, enablement and evaluation.

Responders promoting community resilience on a local level should consider how their work can be integrated with valued local initiatives in related policy areas such as community safety, education, health promotion, and regeneration. These are usually coordinated through community planning partnerships, which have existing structures and processes for community engagement and which can support resilience development.

In line with the wider approach advocated by Preparing Scotland, work to build community resilience should be consistent with the principles and main activities of Integrated Emergency Management. A structured, four stage process is recommended:

  1. Awareness – engagement with communities to develop a shared understanding of the risks they face
  2. Landscape review – establish what assets are available, both amongst responders and the communities themselves
  3. Option appraisal – establish a strategic approach, deciding who to engage with, in what order of priority and how support will be offered
  4. Develop and implement support with communities – creating local activism is key to long-term success

It is good practice to carry out appropriate evaluation of all community resilience initiatives, and to share findings in order to promote learning.

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