National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]
The National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+], abbreviated to NCSR+, was established 'to enhance the UK[+] whole-of-society approach to resilience, so that individuals, community groups, businesses, and organisations can all play a meaningful part in building the resilience of our society'.
The NCSR+ is co-chaired by Alliance Manchester Business School, Suffolk Resilience Forum and Sussex Resilience Forum.
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The NCSR+ involves 63 organisations that are central to building resilience in the UK[+]. These organisations represent:
- Resilience partnerships: These are the multi-agency collaborations that address local risk, vulnerability, and preparedness for disruptive events. Resilience partnerships in the NCSR+ include:
- 37 of England’s 38 Local Resilience Forums
- 3 of Northern Ireland’s 3 Emergency Preparedness Groups
- 3 of Scotland’s 3 Regional Resilience Partnerships
- 3 of Wales’ 4 Local Resilience Forums
- governments from the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man which, along with others, contribute as the ‘+’ in NCSR+
- Sector partners: These are the organisations that have strong local connections and can amplify the voice of their constituencies. Sector partners in the NCSR+ include:
- business sector: larger organisations (BiTC), small businesses (Federation of Small Businesses)
- voluntary sector: collections of national charities (VCSEP), large charities (British Red Cross), hyper-local voluntary organisations (NAVCA, Salford CVS, Cumbria CVS)
- government sector: Environment Agency, whole-system national perspectives (Northern Ireland Executive, Scottish Government, Welsh Government), local government capabilities that are not normally in the space of resilience to disruptive events (Local Government Association)
- academic sector is represented to support evidence-led practice through The University of Manchester providing theory, research skills, and thought leadership to underpin local action
- Community: The individuals, neighbourhoods, businesses, and organisations that share a characteristic such as being co-located. The voice of local communities is initially represented through the relationships that resilience partnerships and sector partners have with their communities, but this will deepen as the consortium matures.
Working with and for diverse communities
The NCSR+ members work with local communities to reduce risks at source, understand changes in vulnerabilities, and enhance levels of preparedness for emergencies. But, such planning needs strong collaboration because disruptive events affect people differently and cross local boundaries so relationships are key. This involves collaborating with local communities of all shapes, sizes, and cohesiveness with the view that every individual, community group, business, and organisation can benefit from becoming more resilient.
Our definition of societal resilience
Society is a broad spectrum and one single definition of societal resilience will not satisfy all actors because different parties will want to accentuate the aspects that they prioritise and attenuate those that sit elsewhere. For local resilience partnerships and sector partners who represent a wide landscape, the NCSR+ define societal resilience as:
capability created by local systems that help people and places to adapt and advance in a changing environment
This definition is intended to be flexible so that it can be altered for different users/audiences by changing the type of language in the definition and the concepts to align to the context. For example, local community groups may not connect with the NCSR+ definition because it does not speak in their language to their priorities. Reflecting this, The University of Manchester created an intuitive, community-focused definition of societal resilience which can be used when communicating with community groups:
capabilities created before, during, and after a disruption that involves everyone who wishes to support those who are in need
This community-focused definition amplifies those aspects that community groups may have an interest in – without seeking to cover the widest landscape in the way that the NCSR+ definition should to be more useful to NCSR+ partners.
There is a lot of substance behind the words used in these definitions – too much detail to add to the definitions themselves. Hence, we define each of the terms in bold in this article (p.2-3): The Manchester Briefing (Issue 47).
Good practice examples
In a study for the National Preparedness Commission, funded by the JRSST Charitable Trust, Dr Judy Scully, and Professor Duncan Shaw (Alliance Manchester Business School, and National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+]) explored 15 initiatives that delivered value to their local communities during COVID-19. The 15 case studies were selected to demonstrate a range of good practices from partners of NCSR+. Of the 15 case studies, 8 were local government led, 5 were led by charity and voluntary sector organisations, 1 was led by a big business in partnership with its community and local government, and the final was led by a new community group.
Despite the diverse nature, purpose and configuration of the initiatives, six key factors emerged that were influential in their success: (1) leadership and strategy; (2) partnerships; (3) co-ordination and communication strategies; (4) local intelligence; (5) management systems; and, (6) delivery. We briefly highlight 6 of the 15 good practice case studies below, you can read the full report here.
West Sussex community resilience programme ‘What If’ – you can make a difference
Established as a grassroots project in 2011 following significant flooding, ‘What If’ is a thriving innovative volunteer programme in West Sussex that supports community resilience. The strategy involves designing a community resilience system that empowers and prepares adults, youth, local communities, and business organisations, so they can mitigate some of the issues in advance, respond during an event, and support recovery.
The project capability provides community resilience training that, during COVID-19, helped people/volunteers to help themselves and vulnerable people, but also promotes greater community cohesion and resilience through their visibility in the community and commitment to actively valuing the volunteers involved in the project.
Eastleigh Borough Council, West Hampshire – COVID-19 Local Response
A key feature of Eastleigh Borough Councils’ COVID-19 response was a joined-up working and inclusive leadership approach that enabled the Council to work with Spontaneous Volunteers and mutual aid groups as equal partners, and provide support to the vulnerable in their communities. The project design was based on a ‘Whole Case Flow System’ linking communications, the website, social media, and operational mechanisms to get messages and support out at speed to those in need.
The system enabled agility in recruitment and delivery, providing a blueprint plan for incorporating volunteers in times of crisis as equal partners, as well as motivating and valuing their presence as service providers working in one team.
Working Together: Sellafield LTD and Cumbria LRF ‘Community Support Cell’ partnership response to COVID-19
COVID-19 was the catalyst that influenced Sellafield Ltd (SL) to establish a Community Support Cell (CSC) as part of its crisis management arrangements. Using an inter-disciplinary team approach, a formal interface between SL and Cumbria LRF was built around the command-and-control structure of the LRF, with SL inserting key individuals where appropriate, to support the LRF and feed information and requests back to SL. By increasing the SL presence in key LRF areas, the team helped to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the region’s most vulnerable people.
Working Together enhanced the COVID-19 response in Cumbria, improved resilience in the surrounding areas, and led to a significant improvement in situational awareness.
Salford Community and Voluntary Services (CVS) working together with Greater Manchester combined authorities to combat COVID-19
Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector; providing specialist information, advice and development support for organisations to establish and develop. They also run a Volunteer Centre that provides a volunteer brokerage infrastructure which helps organisations to recruit, select, train and place volunteers into opportunities within the city.
Understanding the strength of partnership working, Salford CVS Management and Leadership team adeptly worked with Salford Council, and Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, to provide a rapid response to the local and regional COVID-19 crisis. The strategy was designed to meet the needs of vulnerable people through a wide range of activities using a planned coordinated approach that incorporated existing and new partners who could provide an agile response to COVID-19.
Fermanagh Community Transport Ltd (Charity Registered Status) Northern Ireland
Located in the highly rural southwest of Northern Ireland and funded by the Department of Infrastructure and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Fermanagh Community Transport (FCT) has provided transport for the community since 2013. At the start of COVID-19 the service was modified to continue to support their vulnerable client base, as well as expanding their range of services to support all the community residents regardless of age, transporting COVID-19 resources as well as people and gathering intelligence on local needs.
The impact of the project was immense, for example, the expansion of their transport delivery and the range of social service they provided for their community residents tripled their productivity.
Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill Resilience Group, Scotland – New Community Group Established for COVID-19
BKRG is the Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill Resilience Group, established shortly before the first national lockdown in response to COVID-19. A teamwork approach was successful in addressing the difficulties faced by those shielding and the most vulnerable. This was achieved through three activities: (1) Service delivery was coordinated through a call centre, distribution team, and vulnerable people outreach team; (2) Community engagement and outreach activities were designed to promote both physical and mental well-being; (3) Working with other organisations and partners promoted community recovery.
BKRG is now considering future training opportunities for volunteers e.g. through FEMA’s Community Emergency Response Teams, to provide a program that would allow existing volunteers to undergo a certified training in preparation for future emergencies and potentially attract new volunteers.
Policy and Research
Local government and voluntary organisations have long been discussing how to renew their efforts on community resilience. This includes how to build a cohesive, risk-aware, and prepared society that works with partners to enhance local resilience. This ambition was written into The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (‘The IR’) which outlined new intentions on whole-of-society resilience.
To operationalise these national intentions into local systems the NCSR+ will actively listen to governments to understand their direction on societal resilience. This requires research to understand how to operationalise policy, beginning with the components and enablers of good practice, and including building new partnerships, listening to communities, co-producing resilience, facilitating grassroots activity, and enhancing skills in resilience partnerships and sector partners.
Leadership of NCSR+
Co-chairs of NCSR+:
Assistant Manager for West Sussex County Councils’ Resilience and Emergencies Team
- Becky Heginbotham-Blount (Suffolk LRF)
- Chris Scott (West Sussex Council)
- Carney Bonner, British Red Cross
- Kelly Smith, Thames Valley LRF
- Joan McCaffrey (Northern Ireland Preparedness)
- Sarah Whatley (South Yorkshire LRF)
- Duncan Shaw (University of Manchester)
- Strategic communications (Stephanie Buller, Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum and Sacha Taylor, Kent Resilience Forum)
- Training Needs Analysis
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Duncan is Professor in Operational Research and Critical Systems (Alliance Manchester Business School) at the University of Manchester. He works in the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute focusing on developing frameworks to support decision making in emergency planning, response and recovery. He has a particular interest in developing good governance around involving volunteers and community groups in the response to emergencies and in supporting community recovery to major disruptive events.
Duncan sits on numerous research, policy, planning and evaluation committees for the European Union, United Nations, international NGOs and networks, and governments across the world. He chairs a committee on Community Resilience for the International Standards Organization and wrote disaster-related international standards on spontaneous volunteers (ISO22319), conducting peer reviews (ISO22392), mass evacuation (ISO22315), and vulnerable people (ISO22395).
On COVID-19, he contributes to several local and national committees on response and recovery, working in the UK and with governments in many countries as they address the consequences of the virus. He is currently writing the international standard on recovery and renewal from pandemics (ISO22393).
Becky works with the Suffolk Resilience Forum as the Partnership Manager coordinating governance, partnership work and managing the secretariat team reporting to the SRF Chair. Becky started her career in the public sector in 2005 working for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service in the emergency control room, specialising in National Resilience and emergency plans, finishing as Watch Manager Control in 2016. She moved across to Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies working as an Emergency Planning Officer specialising in offshore responses working with UK Police Energy Offshore Group, as well as other emergency planning workstreams and military liaison.
Becky started the role as SRF Partnership Manger in 2020, just before EU Transition during Covid-19, restarting the business-as-usual workstreams, driving the partnership forward working with the LRF Fund increasing capability and capacity. She has an interest in learning from Lessons Identified (LI’s) during incidents and exercises, societal resilience, and sharing best practice nationally and globally.
Chris is the Assistant Manager for West Sussex County Councils’ Resilience and Emergencies Team. He also Co-Chairs the Sussex Resilience Forums’ Sussex Community Resilience Partnership, which is the working group linking Cat 1 Responders with the Voluntary Sector. Chris also sits on the Response and Delivery Groups for the Sussex Resilience Forum.
After college he joined Cleveland Constabulary as a police officer. After a couple of years, he specialised in Command and Control and in Major Incident communications. He later joined West Sussex Fire & Rescue in their Command & Mobilising Centre and was a Mobilising Officer before his transfer to the Resilience and Emergencies Team in 2015.
Members of the NCSR+ represent more than 97% of the UK population through the local governments that serve them and their sector partners, including:
England’s resilience partnerships
Northern Ireland’s resilience partnerships
Scotland's resilience partnerships
Wales' resilience partnerships
Governments of Crown Dependencies
Latest NCSR+ Insights
Monday, October 2, 2023
Congratulations to Alliance MBS Professor Duncan Shaw, who co-chairs the National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+] (NCSR+). This team, including David Powell, Judy Scully and Jenny Moreno, haves been announced as a finalist in the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2023 for their global work on spontaneous volunteers which was central to national responses to COVID-19. >>
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
The National Consortium for Societal Resilience [UK+] has held its first national conference at AMBS with delegates from local resilience partnerships joining senior government figures to discuss societal resilience at a two-day event. >>
Mobilising and managing spontaneous volunteers during national and international emergencies, including COVID-19
Thursday, September 8, 2022