How voluntary organisations can help in emergencies

The role of voluntary organisations in preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies.


Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the delivery of public services, whether it is in the community, health service or in schools. In the case of civil protection, a wide range of voluntary organisations, both at the local and national level, play an important role in preparing for and responding to emergencies by supporting statutory agencies.

Voluntary sector organisations are continually investing in planning and the preparation of their personnel to enable them to support Category 1 and 2 responders in emergency planning, response, recovery and resilience.

Chapter 14 of Emergency Preparedness sets out the role of the voluntary sector in supporting the statutory services in the planning, response and recovery phases of most emergencies.

Civil Contingencies Act 2004

Civil contingencies legislation has been a significant development for the voluntary sector in clarifying its contribution to emergency planning and civil protection within the UK. The Act, Regulations and Guidance require Category 1 responders “to have regard” to the activities of voluntary organisations in the course of carrying out their emergency and business continuity planning duties. Voluntary sector organisations make their resources available to Category 1 and 2 responders through their Local Resilience Forum (LRF) / Strategic Co-ordination Groups.

Voluntary Sector Civil Protection Forum (VSCPF)

The Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office and the British Red Cross established the Voluntary Sector Civil Protection Forum to provide a framework for engagement between the government, emergency services, local authorities and voluntary organisations.

Useful documents for the voluntary sector

Published 20 February 2013
Last updated 7 May 2014 + show all updates
  1. Updated with links to new guidance from the Voluntary Sector Civil Protection Forum.

  2. First published.