The Local Resilience Support Initiative

Victoria Clifford, Lancashire Resilience Forum, Chair of the Community Resilience Subgroup, discusses The Lancashire Resilience Forum’s experience working with a Business in the Community Emergency Volunteer, as part of the Local Resilience Support initiative

Background 
The risks in Lancashire are varied, from pandemic flu to severe weather and chemical incidents.  Emergencies do unfortunately occur and can be unpredictable, but through a coordinated way of working, the Lancashire Resilience Forum (LRF) looks to minimise the impact that they have. The LRF is a group of organisations, which includes the police, fire and rescue service and local authority, who work together under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004) to prepare and respond to emergencies.

For around 18 months, the LRF has been working alongside Business in the Community (BITC) to see how a BITC Emergency Volunteer could support the work that is carried out. The ethos of BITC, 'building healthy communities with successful business at their hearts' and helping businesses to bring together their collective strength for good, is aligned with the LRF's values. Although the LRF organisations have worked with businesses before the chance to explore this in a more formal way was seen as a positive step.

What is BERG and the BERG Pledge?
The Business Emergency Resilience Group (BERG) is a campaign at BITC. BERG is network of businesses and strategic partners who collaborate to find ways to support small businesses to be prepared for disruptions, such as floods and storms and cyber attacks. BERG also has a response side, which works with BITC Members to provide more coordinated support for local resilience bodies during emergencies. BERG has pledged:

To use influence and collaboration to urgently consider and seek to deliver any requests a local resilience body considers important and will make a difference. 

Working with a BITC Emergency Volunteer
The LRF was allocated a BITC Emergency Volunteer from Aviva, Bill Fraine, who is the link into the Local Resilience Support initiative. Bill's main roles are: to communicate the BERG pledge and to be BERG's eyes and ears during an incident. What is interesting is that Bill is a representative from BITC, not Aviva. It was understood that there was no underlying 'sales pitch': BITC Members want to altruistically support during an emergency. 

In the beginning it took a little time to understand how each other operated, and the LRF was daunting for Bill to understand, but by communicating, clarifying, having empathy and open-mindedness a strong working relationship has been forged. As a volunteer, Bill always strives to support the LRF's work: he is part of the Community Resilience Subgroup. He has presented BERG’s pledge to the General Purposes Group (who are responsible for implementing and coordinating work delegated by the LRF), taken part in exercises, and been the gateway to the wider BITC network, such as setting up introductions to The Prince's Responsible Business Ambassador for the North West.

It can be difficult to obtain certain resources during an emergency and to know that there is a huge pool of businesses that may be able to help, at no cost, is useful in times of need. The offer is also consistent with the nature of emergencies: as it's not always known when support will be needed local resilience bodies can ask for assistance by calling a hotline owned and managed by SecuriGroup, who lead on the initiative. The hotline is available 24-hours a day, 365 days of the year. The requests for support are forwarded to the BERG team to action.

So, what happens next? 
The BITC Local Resilience Support initiative is a positive contribution to the vital work carried out in times of difficulty by emergency services and responders. Therefore, the Lancashire Resilience Forum will continue to develop its relationship with the BITC Emergency Volunteer and see how it can further strengthen links to BITC's work in the future.

More information
If your company would like to be involved with the Local Resilience Support initiative or you are from a local resilience body and would like to find out who your regional BITC Emergency Volunteer is, please contact: Hannah Tankard, Programme Manager – Response and Recovery, BERG Team on 020 7566 8734 or hannah.tankard@bitc.org.uk.