Resilient communities and Community Spirit!
The aptly named ‘beast from the east’ has brought out the best in communities the length and breadth of the UK. People are checking on neighbours, some have been feeding those stranded in vehicles and others have been helping emergency service staff get to work.
So what is the difference between a resilient community and one which has risen to the occasion by demonstrating strong community spirit? It seems that the latter is evident only when an emergency or incident has actually occurred whereas a resilient community plans ahead to prevent or minimise the impact of an emergency and provide a co-ordinated response to events such as adverse weather. The difference may be subtle but it is one which we would all do well to think about. The response by communities over the last few days has been commendable but it has been haphazard and uncoordinated. Older people and those who are reliant on public transport, for example, are dependant entirely on uncoordinated acts of kindness from neighbours rather than any co-ordinated response from their community to ensure that all vulnerable residents are okay. The distribution of food supplies is also a concern. No sooner have supermarkets been restocked with fresh supplies than the shelves are cleared by the fittest amongst us. If adverse weather events are to become a more common occurrence, as the new climate change report would suggest, then many more communities need to develop resilience plans. Even in East Haven, where we do have a plan, there is a need to keep this under review, especially after a significant adverse weather or emergency event. The beast from the east has not only brought the wind and snow but also, it is to be hoped, new learning for communities and an opportunity to plan more effectively in the future.