What was the issue that made you start this project?
On 2nd January 2012 a severe winter gale left many parts of Argyll without power for up to 4 days. After recovery was complete the subsequent debrief identified a need for Argyll and Bute council to improve its resilience during a weather related emergency both organisationally, within our communities and to promote individual resilience.
A project was established to address all the issues that enabled the council to fulfil its duties as a category one responder and to carry out critical business activities during disruption. However the council wanted to ensure that individuals are better prepared for severe weather and to encourage them to think less about what the emergency services can do for them and more about what they can do for themselves.
Who was involved and what did they do?
The council project team identified early on that this could not be done in isolation and with our community planning partners they created a handbook for Argyll communities based on the guidance and toolkit from the ReadyScotland website, Strathclyde Police, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, NHS Highland, HM Coastguard, Scottish Government, British Red Cross, WRVS, Argyll Voluntary Action, Scottish Power and Scottish Southern Energy all contributed to the handbook. The handbook 'A Guide to Helping Your Community Prepare an Emergency Plan' was then issued to all 54 community councils in Argyll. The handbook can be found at http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/how-make-community-emergency-plan
All agencies who were involved in the creation of the handbook along with SEPA, Met Office, Strathclyde 4x4, RAYNET and Loch Watch came together to hold two road shows for community councils to raise awareness of the support available to communities in an emergency situation.
What worked well about the project?
All partners felt that the creation of Community Emergency Plans was a very valuable and much needed tool and therefore the support available to communities was vast. Some communities really took off with the creation of their plans and its fantastic that the Isle of Mull alone will have 8 individual Community Emergency Plans to cover the whole island. The project also made people stop and think about their own resilience and how to improve.
What did you learn during this project?
There are always challenges working with so many partners but as we all understood the benefits that the project would bring there was a real determination to work together on this.
We are constantly trying to change attitudes amongst the small amount who believe community resilience is still a council responsibility. We are working hard at this misconception, clearly communicating what we are hoping to achieve and linking it to current situations (most recently Storm Sandy in the USA). We have emphasised throughout that if a community has a plan this will enhance the service they receive from the council and other Cat 1 responders, having a plan does not mean a reduction in services.
What was it that made it work?
The handbook needed the support of all the partner agencies in order to be a success and this was supported by our Community Planning Partnership, The Elected Members of Argyll and Bute Council were also firmly behind the project and have promoted it to all community councils. We are still in the early stages of the community councils creating their plans but are very positive that many communities are creating community emergency plans.