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Howwood Community Resilience Plan

This example has been written by Joe Graham, a resident of Howwood and also a Resilience Professional.

What was the issue that made you start up this project?

Being aware of the need of local communities from responding to civil emergencies in the past, and the structures already in place in other communities across Scotland gave me an insight as to what was lacking in my own area. Based on this the initial catalyst for this particular project was a piece of theoretical work that I started for the PDA in Resilience Management.

As a regular attendee at the Howwood Community Council, I raised the issue of creating a local Community Resilience Plan for the village and putting the theoretical work into practice. The suggestion was well received and I agreed to draft a plan making use of the information on the ReadyScotland website.

Who was involved and what did they do?

A small sub group of the HCC was established and chaired by the Chair of the Community Council. The initial group consisted of 5 members, the Chair, three CC members and myself. This was opened up to a wider group after the draft plan had been completed.

The members identified the key resources and assets within the village, the key resilience issues that have been faced in the past, and potential issues for responding to in the future.

External participants included resilience officers from Strathclyde Police, Strathclyde Fire & Rescue (a local resident to the village), Renfrewshire Council and Scottish Ambulance Services. Local Elected Members were also represented.

To alert the village inhabitants to the process, information was "drip-fed" to them via the free community news letter delivered to every household, over a period of time, increasing the contents as time progressed. Latterly this was supplemented by posters being put up in local stores and a short article placed in a local newspaper advertising two forth coming meetings.

The first of the two public meetings was held with the owners of the key assets which we may need to rely upon such as the local village stores, the Church Hall, the local bowling club, the local Inn, the local community hall etc. During this meeting a presentation was given explaining Resilience as a concept from the national objectives down to the more local response and how they could assist. A second meeting was held for the villagers themselves which covered much of the same information, but also concentrated more on the role of the volunteers. 25 people attended and 19 people volunteered.

What worked well about the project?

The positive contribution of all involved was gratifying to see.  The presentations were well received and information/registration forms handed out on the night and taken back in. Discussions were held over a cup of tea at the end of the meetings, cementing good working relationships.

Keeping the proposed response scenarios realistic and what is expected of the volunteers and team members was critical I believe. Just as important as explaining what was expected, was informing them of what was not expected - i.e. doing the jobs of the emergency service professionals.

What did you learn during this project?

The framework documents provided on ReadyScotland made the process relatively simple. There is a lot of information available to help on the web.

The buy-in from the villagers to become involved in the process was relatively high, although there is scope to improve and seek more volunteers.

There was/is a strong feeling of community spirit out there waiting to be tapped into.

The statutory authorities were eager to participate and become involved.

Working with volunteers means that they dictate the speed the project develops. However this can have two aspects, - those that are retired can turn things round very quickly whilst those that are working may need additional time to complete tasks. (Being one of the latter, sometimes I felt that delayed progress).

What was it that made it work?

Relating the need to past events was extremely useful.

The support offered by the statutory authorities gave the process some credibility.

The enthusiasm and willingness of the local individuals to become involved, and their determination for the project to succeed was incredible.

Keeping the message simple and having realistic expectations allowed villagers to feel part of the process and take ownership.

I suppose having, not one but two resilience professionals in the village helped!

The project is still developing and work continues.

Contact

Joe Graham - josephbellgraham@hotmail.com