What is a community reserve volunteer?

A community reserve volunteer is a person who has signed up with the British Red Cross to help in the event of a local, large-scale crisis – like widespread flooding or a large fire.

Why do you need them?

When a major crisis hits, members of the public are often quick to offer their support. This help can be invaluable.

By signing up to become a community reserve volunteer, the British Red Cross can harness people’s goodwill in advance of a crisis. So if the worst does happen, those registered in that area can have an active role in helping others promptly.

When would a community reserve volunteer be asked to help?

A community reserve volunteer would only be asked to help in the event of a local, major crisis.

British Red Cross emergency response managers, in partnership with local councils and the emergency services, would take into consideration the size of the emergency, whether existing volunteers were stretched, and the need for extra support.

What would community reserve volunteers do in a major crisis?

Community reserve volunteers would assist regular British Red Cross volunteers with practical tasks relevant to the crisis, like preparing kit and equipment, filling sandbags, sorting supplies and making refreshments. 

This extra help allows the emergency services, local councils and regular Red Cross volunteers to provide even more support to people in crisis.

Who can become a community reserve volunteer?

Anyone aged 18 or over and living in the UK can become a community reserve volunteer.

You will need to have a mobile phone so you can receive a text message alerting you in the event of an emergency in your area.

You will also need an active email account, photo ID, and be willing to do some quick online training.

You should be physically and mentally fit enough to carry out the tasks during an emergency, and uphold the fundamental principles of the British Red Cross when requested to help.

How do I become a community reserve volunteer?

Becoming a community reserve volunteer is quick and easy. It takes 10 minutes to watch our training video and fill in our online form.

These simple steps mean that if your local community is hit by a crisis, you can be contacted immediately to have an active role in supporting those affected.

Do community reserve volunteers get training?

Community reserve volunteers are asked to watch an online training video and answer some quick questions to show they understand what’s required.

If sent to help during a crisis, you can expect some additional, task-specific training at the scene from a regular, fully trained British Red Cross volunteer or staff member.

How would I get asked to help as a community reserve volunteer?

In the event of a major crisis in your local community, you would receive a text from the British Red Cross detailing the emergency and asking if you were available to help.

If you were able to, you would simply text back saying “YES” and we would then add you to the rota and send you extra information on where to go and what to bring.

Are community reserve volunteers paid expenses?

Yes, expenses are covered and volunteers are provided with food and drinks while on duty. 

Why do I need to sign up? Can I not just turn up at the scene and help?

When a crisis hits, people often turn up at the scene to help in whatever way they can. They can be of great use, but there is no way of knowing how many might turn up.

To be more effective in an emergency situation, a little preparation is better.

By signing up to become a community reserve volunteer in advance of a crisis, we can mobilise you to help more quickly and effectively.

We can also give you tasks that are coordinated with the overall emergency response alongside the local authority, emergency services, and regular British Red Cross volunteers.

I thought the British Red Cross already had emergency response volunteers?

Yes we do. The Red Cross has teams of emergency response volunteers across the UK, ready to help people in a range of crisis situations, from natural disasters to house fires. They have lots of experience and thorough training in supporting people in crisis directly.

Community reserve volunteers are only called upon in the event of a major crisis and carry out practical tasks in support of these existing Red Cross emergency response volunteers.

Being a community reserve volunteer is perfect for those of you who would naturally feel the urge to help during a major emergency, but don’t have the time to commit to volunteering all year round.