Community reserve volunteers in Leicester – working together to support the community

On November 1st, ten community reserve volunteers from Leicester and Nottingham helped the British Red Cross demonstrate to existing and potential partners how we could support during a major water shortage. The simulation was organised with the help of Severn Trent who supplied signage, water and other useful equipment.

Local resilience partners and energy companies were invited along to meet our local emergency response teams and to observe the simulation to understand the different ways in which the Red Cross is capable of supporting during a range of emergencies. In this scenario our community reserve volunteers were deployed alongside existing emergency response volunteers with the task of distributing bottled water to affected members of the community. We had a range of actors on the day playing the role of members of the community who had come to collect water for their household. This was in order to demonstrate to volunteers different types of scenarios they might come across during a similar emergency.

The simulation allowed community reserve volunteers and emergency response volunteers to understand how they would work together during a real life emergency. While community reserve volunteers helped set up the water distribution centre, handed out bottled water and kept a log of how many bottles had been supplied – our emergency response volunteers were present to provide emotional support or sign post to other services.

One community reserve volunteer who took part in the exercise, Ruth, from Market Harborough, said: “I signed up as a CRV because all my children had gone to university. I had a lot of free time and I thought signing up would be a great opportunity to give something back to the community.”

Chidi, a Health and Safety officer from Nottingham, signed up as a community reserve volunteer to give something back to the organisation for the support it has given his family.

He said: “The Red Cross has given support to my mother in Nigeria in the past.

“My wife had a stroke and was in a coma. While she was recovering we needed extra support around the house. The British Red Cross supplied us with all the mobility aids and equipment we needed.”

Jim Spriggs, senior emergency response officer for the British Red Cross in Leicestershire, said: “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 help us ensure we are ready to respond quickly to an emergency situation.

“We know that you don’t need special skills to help others. Small acts of kindness and coming together as a team can make a huge difference which is why we’re encouraging everyone to become a community reserve volunteer for the Red Cross.”

The Red Cross is more than half way towards its target of recruiting 10,000 community reserve volunteers in the UK by the end of 2019, who can be called upon if an emergency happens in their community. Sign up today by visiting