Community champs needed to create community resilience

PUBLISHED: 14:00 26 May 2014

Archant

A RESILIENCE group could be set up in North Worle, creating community champions and new strategies to cope when a major incident occurs.

Following Somerset’s storms earlier this year, Community Resilience North Somerset is calling out to more parishes in the district and has asked North Worle residents to consider forming a group.

The scheme was set up by North Somerset Council last year, to be delivered in partnership with other town and parish councils, and to identify and prioritise risks in certain areas and how to best respond to them.

Emergency manager Ian Wilson met with the North Worle Forum, which is made up of residents and councillors, last week.

He said: “In major events some 
communities become isolated by the severity of the incident and emergency services cannot get to them for 24-48 hours, meaning the community is left to fend for themselves.

“Community Resilience North Somerset empowers communities and gives them confidence, and when the emergency services turn up they can contact the community team leader who will provide names and addresses of vulnerable people in that area.”

Mr Wilson said he is looking for volunteers to become community champions to lead other residents in the event of a major emergency.

He said: “We are trying to go into areas like North Worle and Mead Vale where we can engage and go forward.

“There has been a barrier with some of the bigger towns and we need more 
community champions.

“We have got some in Wick St Lawrence, St Georges, Kewstoke, but not in Weston at the moment.”

Community Resilience North Somerset is also now in a position where it can apply for charitable status, which will open the 
door to a range of grants and funding.

Mr Wilson added: “It does not matter if you have relevant skills or not, we will provide you with all the training you need. It is your local knowledge that is key to this.

“If there was a major incident, where residents had to be evacuated from homes, it could take two hours to get a community into a shelter.

“But you could do that in 30 minutes if you had the group established.

“We are trying to make communities more self-reliant.”

The forum agreed to find out more about the scheme and make a decision at the next meeting.

Councillor Marcia Pepperall said: “I hope everyone will learn a bit more about it and we can see what interest we have got and if we can move forward, which I hope we can.”

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