The context for community resilience

Published 26 October 2016

1. Community resilience in the context of personal and business resilience

Communities, businesses, and individuals are empowered to harness local resources and expertise to help themselves and their communities to:

  • prepare, respond and recover from disruptive challenges, in a way that complements the activity of Category 1 and 2 emergency responders
  • plan and adapt to long term social and environmental changes to ensure their future prosperity and resilience

Resilience to emergencies and disasters is about being aware of risks that might impact the individual, or the continuity of a business, and planning and preparing for them to minimise the impact and disruption.

The promotion of community resilience should be considered in the context of the promotion of personal and business resilience. Communities consist of individuals and often businesses, and sometimes a business is a community. The resilience of individuals and businesses contributes to the wider community’s resilience, which in turn contributes to wider national resilience.

Community resilience is about empowering individuals, businesses and community groups to:

  • take collective action to both increase their own resilience and that of others
  • come together to identify and support vulnerable individuals
  • take responsibility for the promotion of individual and business resilience

2. The benefits of resilient individuals, businesses and communities

Individuals, businesses and communities benefit from:

  • reduced exposure to risks from hazards and threats
  • a greater capacity and motivation for collective action
  • a greater sense of community, with greater inclusivity and cohesion
  • reduced social, financial and health impacts from hazards and threats
  • increased confidence to take positive action to prepare, respond and recover from hazards and threats
  • the ability to adapt to risks, both proactively and in response, and take advantage of opportunities that longer-term changes present
  • stronger relationships with government and responders resulting in mutual trust and influence

Government and emergency responders benefit from:

  • the ability to prioritise resources to those in greatest need
  • improved understanding of communities, their needs and capacities
  • stronger relationships with communities resulting in mutual trust and influence
  • better partnering and co-ordination with the full spectrum of volunteers for example from spontaneous volunteers to town and Parish council members
  • reduced demand on services and higher community welfare as a result of the economic and social benefits for the community

3. Principles for supporting community resilience

Community resilience can be most effectively supported by informing, engaging and empowering communities, in different measures, as appropriate for the specific community context.

Whilst there are standard methods and outputs to support community resilience (for example production of emergency plans) it is the ongoing process of informing, engaging and empowering communities, and how this is conducted, which is of greatest importance.

The following principles should guide practitioners activities to support community resilience:

  • take a participatory approach, be open-minded and use local perspectives to co-design supportive, positive engagement – don’t assume you know what is needed or wanted
  • be ethical, inclusive and avoid bias, aim to engage with a representative cross section including minorities and those with accessibility needs
  • be transparent and accountable, manage information appropriately, monitoring, evaluating and sharing information about activities and outcomes
  • work through existing channels, groups and networks with aligned active agencies, it is far more likely to get traction and avoid the risk of duplication and fatigue
  • acknowledge that different groups will need different levels of support (informing, engaging, empowering)
  • develop trust and overcome barriers to engagement through a consistent but responsive approach

4. Activities for a community resilient to emergencies and disasters

Resilient communities have a role in all parts of the emergency cycle. This is explained by outlining the types of activities that communities might be involved with.

Community resilience framework pic 1

4.1 Preparedness

  • communications and events to build cohesive networks and raise community awareness on a peer-to-peer basis
  • personal, business and community plans, which are exercised
  • ongoing assessment of vulnerability, capacity and assets
  • systems for local monitoring of risks and early warning
  • co-ordinating with responders and informing responder plans
  • insurance for those at risk (businesses, homeowners, tenants)

4.2 Response

  • local monitoring and 2-way information flow with responders and with the wider public
  • effective decision-making to trigger community emergency plans
  • co-ordinating with responders and co-ordinating spontaneous volunteers

4.3 Recovery

  • identifying community recovery needs and capacity, and matching these to the available community and agency support
  • raising awareness of the available support and schemes
  • recovering in a resilient way to reflect the new normal
  • evaluate activities and learn lessons

4.4 Mitigation/protection

  • deploying and maintaining barriers and buffers in the built and natural environment
  • working with health programmes, behaviour change and awareness raising

4.5 Support from government, Category 1 and 2 responders, voluntary and private organisations

  • training
  • resources
  • facilitation
  • service integration
  • funding/in kind
  • information

5. Legislative context for community resilience

The Civil Contingencies Act (CCA) 2004 states that Category 1 responders are required to:

Emergency Preparedness guidance on part 1 of the CCA, its associated regulations and non-statutory arrangements provides further details.

*see CCA 2004 for details

6. National resilience context for community resilience

The promotion of community resilience is part of the government’s national security strategy. The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security review made the following statements and commitments in relation to community resilience:

4.128 The UK’s resilience depends on all of us – the emergency services, local and central government, businesses, communities and individual members of the public.

4.132 We will expand and deepen the government’s partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, and with communities and individuals, as it is on these relationships that the resilience of the UK ultimately rests.

4.145 We recognise that the response to, and recovery from, an emergency is carried out first and foremost at the local level. As well as the police, fire and rescue and health services, a wide range of organisations could be involved. These include local government, voluntary service organisations, businesses, community groups and individuals.

4.147 We will also continue to support the Prince of Wales’ Business Emergency Recovery Group, a business-led initiative that helps businesses and communities prepare for, respond to and recover from crises.