The British Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours in the UK – from fires, to extreme weather conditions and flooding, to national emergencies including acts of terror.

A new report published by the British Red Cross and Aviva shows that the majority of people in the UK want to help if disaster strikes in their community but would not know what to do.

The report, ‘When Crisis Hits: mobilising kindness in our communities’, reveals that almost nine in ten people (88%) say that if an emergency happened in their community they would want to get involved, yet more than half (53%) of people would not know what to do if a disaster struck.

The British Red Cross, in partnership with Aviva, is calling on people across the UK to sign up to a new scheme called Community Reserve Volunteers to help create a national network of people ready to help in a local emergency.

The scheme hopes to recruit 10,000 community reserve volunteers across the UK by the end of 2019. Click here to sign up

Volunteers don’t need any specialist skills to get involved.

Once signed up, volunteers will be contacted by text if there is an emergency in their community they could help with.

Volunteers will be asked to help by doing practical jobs like packing food parcels, blowing up airbeds for rest centres and filling sandbags in times of flooding.

The call for people to sign up comes after the British Red Cross experienced one of the busiest years since WWII, assisting 9,300 people in more than 1,500 emergencies across the UK in 2017, including terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the Grenfell Tower fire.

Thomas Milburn, 26, signed up as a community reserve volunteer after being assisted by British Red Cross volunteers when he was badly burnt in the Shoreham Air Show disaster. He said:

“I looked up into the sky and this plane was coming straight towards me. The next split second I was engulfed in flames. I thought ‘I’m not sure I’m going to make it out of this alive’. The British Red Cross got me sat down, checked all my vital signs, and made sure I was alright. If I had been away from their help I’d potentially have had much more serious injuries.

“In the aftermath of the crash the British Red Cross did a lot to help the emergency personnel on the scene and people in the community can help with in those extreme circumstances. I think the community reserve volunteer initiative is a really great idea because not everyone has the time to volunteer on a weekly or monthly basis but people do want to get involved when something major happens. It’s something that I’ll be proud to help the Red Cross with.”

You don’t need specialist skills to make a difference, and simple acts of kindness can make big difference. Any necessary training will be given at the scene of the crisis and you can confirm your availability when you are contacted.

To learn more about the British Red Cross’ Community Reserve Volunteer scheme with Aviva and how to sign up, click here.

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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