Information for communities and community groups

Group of five men and women of various ages in discussion in a community centre.

Advice during an emergency

First ensure that you, your family and neighbours are safe and well. Then consider helping your community.

If you are a community group that is experiencing or responding to an emergency, contact your local council. They may be able to provide advice and assistance. 

Check local radio stations, local TV broadcasts, and trusted news sources (such as your local emergency services website or their social media) for specific advice from local emergency partners.

About this page

The information on this page can help community groups think about how they can build networks and support their communities before, during and after an emergency.

Community action is about using local knowledge, skills and resources to work together. It’s about thinking of what already exists around you, what you already do, and who you already talk to or work with.

Community action can help your community to plan for, respond to and recover from emergencies – it doesn’t matter if it’s a coffee morning, a youth group or a climate group – building strong local relationships helps communities to prepare for when the worst happens.

Building local relationships and networks can help your community be better prepared before, during and after an emergency. 

Why is it important to be involved and prepared?

Experience shows that those who have spent time getting to know their community are better able to respond in an emergency and recover more quickly.

Communities often understand the challenges faced by people in their area. By working together, communities can support themselves to prepare for and respond to emergencies.

In an emergency, your local emergency services will always prioritise those in greatest need, especially where life is in danger. 

By being prepared and ready to take action, communities are able to use their resources and networks to help and support each other.

Information for community groups

The way in which community groups support their communities will look different from area to area. One size doesn’t fit all.

What does a community preparing for emergencies look like?

Communities in the UK already involved in preparing for emergencies show some or all of the following features:

  • Awareness of risks that may affect them (both nationally and locally) and how vulnerable they are to those risks, including an understanding of who in their community may be most in need of support. 
  • Work in partnership to complement the work of the local emergency services and other organisations (such as other local voluntary, community and faith groups) before, during and after an emergency.
  • Identify and use existing skills, knowledge and resources to prepare for, and deal with, the impacts of emergencies.
  • Recognise that it is an ongoing process to build and enhance relationships across the community to better improve the area’s preparedness for an emergency.

What your community group can do to help

Don’t put yourself or others at risk

  • Individuals and community groups should never do anything which puts themselves or others at risk.

Stay informed

  • This website provides information on specific risks and actions you can take to stay up to date with alerts from different organisations, such as the Met Office.
  • Your local Community Risk Register sets out some of the risks that could affect your local area, and how to prepare for these.

Get involved in preparing for an emergency

  • Your group might already be focused on how it can support your community to prepare and respond to an emergency. If it isn’t, consider how you can include preparing for emergencies into your existing activities.
  • If you need help getting started, seek advice from other community groups in your area who might be doing this already. 
  • Your local council or Local Infrastructure Organisation may be able to provide advice and connections. The main purpose of a Local Infrastructure Organisation is to support other groups in their local voluntary and community sector. They are voluntary sector organisations and could help you make connections.

Talk to other community groups

  • Speak with other community groups already working to support and enhance life in your community e.g. flood wardens and other emergency response groups, youth groups, residents’ associations, faith and cultural groups. 
  • Think about how you could work together and use your combined skills, resources and expertise to support your community to prepare and respond to emergencies.

Talk to your community

  • Hold outreach sessions about the work that you do. By taking a participatory approach, you can consider the perspectives of the wider community and share information about your activities and how they can get involved.
  • Work with trusted community partners and voices to reach different parts of your community.

Work in partnership with local emergency partners 

  • Speak to your local emergency services to understand how they can support your community-led emergency planning – and how you can support official emergency preparedness and response work.  
  • Get in touch with your local council or Local Resilience Forum to find out more about preparing the community for an emergency.

Know your community leaders 

  • Know those people who are trusted leaders and voices across different groups in your communities. You can find your local councillor on GOV.UK. You should consider engaging with wider community leaders, including voluntary and community, faith and local business representatives.
  • Speak to them about your work and how you can support each other to build networks and trust.

Make a plan

  • When an emergency happens, it is best to have a plan in place so you know who to contact and how your group will support your community and the emergency response.
  • This community emergency plan template provides an outline of the key information plans should include. 


If you’re in Wales

If you’re in Scotland

  • The Scottish Government’s Ready Scotland website has information on coming together to prepare as a community, which includes resources, templates and online training to help local communities get involved.

If you’re in Northern Ireland

  • NI Direct’s Be ready as a community page has information and resources on how communities can plan for emergencies.