How local communities would recover from a disaster or major incident was discussed by Dorset Local Resilience Forum (LRF) partners this week.
Recent national incidents – such as the Grenfell Tower fire, significant flooding in different parts of the country and the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester – have highlighted the importance of recovery and how starting that process as soon as possible is vital.
Representatives from a range of local agencies met in Dorchester on 6 February to discuss the LRF plans (Recovery Framework), that define how emergency services and voluntary agencies would respond following a major incident. Amongst those in attendance were Dorset Civil Contingencies Unit, Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, Victim Support, British Red Cross, Dorset County Council, Bournemouth and Poole Councils, the Met Office, Dorset Community Foundation, Public Health England, South Western Ambulance Service, NHS England, Poole Council for Voluntary Service, Volunteer Centre Dorset, CRUSE Bereavement Care, 4×4 Response, the Environment Agency and Bournemouth University.
The overall aim of the recovery process is to achieve a return to normality, as far as practicably possible. However, recovery is a complex and long-running process that usually takes years rather than months to complete, as it seeks to address the enduring human, physical, environmental and economic consequences of major incidents.
Matthew Weller, from Dorset Civil Contingencies Unit, who co-authored the Recovery Framework, said: "Effective recovery inevitably involves many more agencies and participants than the response phase, which is why so many organisations were represented at this workshop event. The role of the voluntary sector is particularly important as communities deal with trauma, so the programme included several speakers who set out the range of help and support that is available."
Amongst the speakers were representatives from Victim Support, Dorset Community Foundation, Volunteer Centre Dorset and Poole Council for Voluntary Service. Discussion points included how to manage donations of money and goods, supporting victims and their families, and providing a community focus through remembrance events and memorials.
While it is hoped that the Framework is never needed locally, it has now been formally adopted by the Dorset Local Resilience Forum and will help to direct how emergency responders and voluntary organisations deliver future recovery activity in the event of a major incident anywhere within the rural Dorset area and the conurbations of Dorchester, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.