Clovenfords and District Community Council is taking part in the Resilient Communities initiative organised by Scottish Borders Council. This involves forming a group of volunteers who can help their neighbours in emergencies (e.g. heavy snow, flooding, missing people). Their work will be in addition to – not a replacement of – services provided by the council, police, utility companies, etc.
During the coronavirus pandemic has taken on a huge and totally unexpected challenge. In late March 2020 we stood up the Resilience Group, seeking volunteers for the specific purpose of providing support to our community during this national emergency and assist our more vulnerable residents. We had 35 volunteers sign up and around 20 of these ‘Angels’ were regularly active. Over lockdown, and beyond, Angels have shopped regularly for many folk; picked up a lot of prescriptions; delivered countless newspapers; posted/collected many letters and parcels; mowed lawns; gathered and delivered food and monetary donations to Galashiels Food Bank; delivered over 100 plants to vulnerable residents around the village; collected and distributed eggs; made numerous courtesy calls to vulnerable residents, etc.
The Clovenfords Resilient Community Plan has now been completed and can be downloaded here. This covers Clovenfords, Caddonfoot, Yair, Peel and Craigmyle, and is intended to raise awareness and understanding of the local risks including severe weather, flooding and power cuts, as well as providing useful information to help manage those risks, e.g. likely flooding maps, gritting maps, contacts.
Your help and skills in supporting and assisting our community with a severe weather event or incident are vital, so we’re building a list of volunteers – that’s where you come in! Please let us know what support you can offer.
We also recognise that in times of severe weather or utility failure, some people in our community may need a bit of extra support from the resilient community volunteers, so we’d like to build a list of people we can offer assistance to in severe weather or during a power cut (e.g., if you have a disability, or need to look after young children so can’t clear your drive).
Utility companies have a duty of care towards their customers, and maintain registers of those they term vulnerable who are at greater risk during interruptions (power/water/gas cuts). During extended interruptions, they may offer free services (e.g. alternative heating and cooking facilities). If you are of pensionable age, have a disability, chronic illness or child under eight, we suggest you inform your supplier of this so they can put you on their register.
As part of the initiative, we have obtained equipment for the community to use in times of severe weather or other emergencies. This includes high visibility jackets, gloves, torches, snow shovels, grit spreaders, hard hats, crampons, and first aid kits, and is currently stored in a locked shed behind the Clovenfords Hotel. We also have a large bin with a tonne of salt. This doesn’t replace the salt bins around the village, but is an extra supply for use in severe weather, and will be locked to ensure that it’s available in times of need. We have also obtained a store of sandbags, which are located in a self help sandbag store above the upper level of the hotel car park and have been provided for emergency use only.
We are also providing free first aid training through the British Red Cross. This is a basic course which teaches you ‘what not to do’ in an emergency, rather than intensive lifesaving skills. If you’re interested in coming along, then please let me know. It will be a 2 hour session held at Wheatland’s Mill, Galashiels. Further details will be scheduled when we know how many wish to participate.
The Hutton & Paxton Community Resilience Group ran a joint exercise with Police Scotland, SBC and Mountain Rescue to test their emergency response and contacts/volunteer tree, harnessing the community’s resources to find to two ‘missing’ walkers. This exercise was filmed and is worth watching to understand a bit more about the main principles of Resilient Communities.