"The British Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours in the UK - from fires, to extreme weather, flooding and acts of terror. The charity, alongside Aviva, is calling for 10,000 volunteers to support in local emergencies." Caroline Dinenage MP
The drive to sign up more volunteers comes after the British Red Cross experienced one of its busiest years since WWII in 2017, assisting 9,265 people in more than 1,500 emergencies across the UK. Caroline showed her support for a new British Red Cross scheme called community reserve volunteers which will create a national network of people ready to help in a local emergency.
Caroline attended an event, run by the British Red Cross and Aviva at the House of Commons, to meet with volunteers and hear about the initiative, as well as their experiences of being deployed to incidents such as the Grenfell Tower fire and the London terror attacks.
Caroline said "The report published by the British Red Cross and Aviva shows that the majority of people in our region would want to help if disaster struck in their community but 55% would not know what to do. This campaign is about equipping them with skills and confidence to step up, should they ever be needed.
The report, 'When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities', also revealed that 50% of people in the South East think their community would be unprepared to cope with a large scale emergency such as a fire or flooding.
The scheme hopes to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers across the UK by the end of 2019 and it takes just ten minutes to sign up at redcross.org.uk/reserves
Simon Lewis, Head of Crisis Response at the British Red Cross, said: "By creating a national taskforce of community reserve volunteers we want to put people and their communities at the heart of emergency response, to help communities rebuild and recover faster.
"Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. It's quick and easy to sign up online community reserve volunteers, you don't need specialist skills and we need your help now more than ever."
The volunteers don't need any specialist skills and will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community they could help with. They will undertake vital jobs like packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted. The British Red Cross will be running emergency simulation exercises across the country to effectively practise deployment of this new team of volunteers in the coming months.
To learn more about the British Red Cross' Community Reserve Volunteer scheme with Aviva and how to sign up, visit: redcross.org.uk/reserves