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May 2019

Purpose of this Guidance

Preparing Scotland states that:

“All responders should support the development of community resilience and associated activity, applying and encouraging an innovative approach throughout.”

Building community resilience is an important element in the approach recommended to responders in Preparing Scotland. It is widely recognised as good practice, particularly as it has huge potential to support and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of other resilience activities and improve outcomes for communities and individuals.

The main readership of this document will be Scotland’s emergency managers and resilience professionals, working in Category 1 and 2 responder organisations as defined by the Civil Contingencies Act (2004). These include local authorities, the police, fire and rescue service, ambulance service, and health boards. It will also be of interest to Category 2 Responders and numerous voluntary sector organisations, amongst others, who continue to be the major source of Scotland’s resilience expertise and to be at the forefront in coping with the consequences of emergencies. It may well also be of use to others who have an interest in promoting more resilient communities in fields including, but not limited to, community engagement and community safety.

It suggests how they can work with individuals, community groups, private sector businesses, voluntary sector organisations and Category 1 and 2 responders, to help them make communities more resilient. In line with other Preparing Scotland guidance5 it is not intended to be an operations manual. It does not offer all the answers, and it is not prescriptive. It is drawn from existing good practice in Scottish communities and provides a basis for innovation, that builds on what we know works.

Supporting materials have been published online. These include The Guide to Emergency Planning for Community Groups, which is targeted at community activists. Additional materials and resources can be found on for communities, and the for local authority partners and other interested stakeholders.


Characteristics of resilient communities

In developing policies and approaches to build community resilience it is recommended that responders consider referring to the following characteristics, which are frequently associated with community resilience. Actions aimed at promoting risk awareness or any of the characteristics below are likely to be of value, although they are best delivered as part of a structure.

Individuals and households

  • Are aware of the main risks which affect them and have plans in place to cope in an emergency
  • Have access to clear relevant advice about how to prepare for emergencies, and what actions to take should they occur
  • Take sensible precautions in case of emergency (such as preparing an emergency grab-bag, stocking up on basic essentials at home, or making preparations to protect their belongings from flooding)
  • Young people learn about resilience in both formal and informal settings, to prepare them for the challenges of life in the 21st century
  • Are capable and confident to safely offer help to others in need, free from the fear of unjustified issues of liability or concern about possible legal action


Voluntary and community groups

  • Develop local community emergency plans which set out how communities will work together to prepare for, respond to and recover from key risks
  • Know how they can act to help others in the event of an emergency, and are prepared to take action
  • Are willing to make their capabilities known to public sector agencies, and are prepared to deploy if required
  • Are willing and able, where appropriate, to work alongside responder organisations to prepare for emergencies
  • Take part in joint training and exercising and in business continuity planning where necessary
  • Have robust and relevant business continuity plans in place to enable continued operation in an emergency, and help others to do the same


Commercial enterprises and service providers

  • Businesses and service providers, whether public or private sector, are organisations where people collaborate and have interests in common. Although they may differ significantly from informal, local communities, viewing them from a community perspective can be valuable
  • Organisations that have business continuity management arrangements will be more resilient. (Detailed guidance on business continuity management is provided in Preparing Scotland: Having and Promoting Business Resilience6)
  • Business continuity planning has tended to be activity focused, emphasising restoring processes that have been disrupted. Engaging with the different communities within an organisation will greatly extend this approach by promoting a culture of resilience
  • Organisations that promote resilience in their workforce will enhance their own resilience, that of their staff and that of other communities of which their staff are part
  • Organisations that have considered how they can contribute to the resilience of the communities in which they operate will strengthen local community resilience


5 Preparing Scotland (PS) guidance is set out as a “hub & spokes”, in which the central hub, “Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Preparing for Emergencies” incorporates:

  • the philosophy of resilience in Scotland
  • the principles that underpin effective Integrated Emergency Management (IEM)
  • governance structures
  • regulatory guidance and recommended good practice
  • clear signposting to the detailed “spokes”.

This document is the spoke that provides detailed guidance on community resilience.



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