Helping-hands in a crisis: Community reserve volunteers take part in Cornwall emergency simulation

If an emergency happened in your community, would you want to help?

Seventeen community reserve volunteers from across Cornwall proved that anyone can help in a crisis after taking part in an emergency flood simulation in Portreath on Saturday 10 March.

Simple tasks can make a big difference


The volunteers were taught how to fill sandbags and build a flood defence. They were also tasked with sorting through bags of clothing donations left for those affected by the ‘flood’.

One person to take part was Julie McAneny, 61 from Newquay. She said: “I didn’t really know what to expect from the exercise, but it was very good. It goes to show what a difference 17 people can make.

“When flooding happens it’s so devastating for those affected – financially and emotionally. Having a team of people on hand who are ready and willing to help is a great idea.

“As long as you’re happy to muck in and get involved it shows that these sorts of tasks can really make a big difference.”

A ready-made taskforce

The Red Cross has launched a campaign to recruit a taskforce of 10,000 community reserve volunteers across the UK. The volunteers would only be called on if a crisis occurred where they live. By signing up to become a community reserve volunteer you can make a difference on your doorstep, whether this is by filling sandbags, sorting emergency supplies or organising kit and equipment during a crisis. You will join others from your area, as part of the British Red Cross team, if your community faces a crisis like a major flood or a fire.

Paul Tonkin, 72 from Illogan in Cornwall, also took part in the simulation event. He said: “We’ve seen flooding here in Portreath a number of times. Most recently, back in January when part of the sea wall was washed down during the storm.

“I know from my previous life in the army the importance of being prepared. If an emergency does happen, I’ll be ready to help out wherever needed.”

Extraordinary levels of compassion

Andy Gill, senior emergency response officer at the Red Cross, helped organise the event in Cornwall: “When a crisis hits we often see extraordinary levels of compassion shown by local communities who naturally want to help, but don’t always know how they can.

“This simulation exercise really helped us test the level of response from our community reserve volunteers and assess the practical tasks they might be asked to do in a real emergency.

“Community reserve volunteers may only be called upon once or twice a year, but their help can be vital and exercises like this helps us ensure we are ready to respond quickly to an emergency situation.”

Ready to respond

You don’t need special skills to help others. Small acts of kindness and coming together as a team can make a huge difference in a crisis. We’re encouraging everyone to become a community reserve volunteer and it only takes ten minutes to sign up. The initiative, which is funded by Aviva, has already seen more than 3,000 people sign up including more than 170 in Cornwall.

To sign up as a community reserve volunteer visit: Volunteers must be over 18, have a mobile phone and be prepared to carry out practical tasks during an emergency.