In the middle of a global pandemic, it is easy to focus on fighting the fire in front of us rather than considering the long-term goals of recovery. Whilst there is a sense of reality and logic in dealing with the moment, we want to emerge the other side of this stronger, armed with skills and knowledge that will prepare us for recovery.

It is with that aim that the British Red Cross are running a series of workshops all based on the idea of resilience. Keen to come at it from a local angle, and use the skills and resources already in the community, they are asking residents to take the lead in what emergency they consider and evaluate how we, as a borough, would best come through to the other side.

Right now, Covid-19 is at the forefront of all our thoughts; however, what if other disasters, such as fire or flood, were to hit our borough? How would we handle that? Where are our areas of strength and weakness? What agencies would be helpful or necessary to overcome the difficulties and ensure we are left fighting, not flailing.

Katherine Hill, who is the British Red Cross representative in this area, having worked in various boroughs across London, has noticed a real difference in the way that Barking and Dagenham work together. An example she gave was regarding a BD_CAN meeting, at the end of last year when the question was raised over what should be done for Christmas, and the response in the meeting was impressive, with various organisations ‘jumping in’ to offer their services and support.

Another key area of difference is the borough’s excellent response to the call for volunteers. Whereas the British Red Cross were initially looking for 10 volunteers per borough, B&D have already had 20. That’s 20 individual residents who are keen to help promote the subject of resilience in their local areas, to their local groups.

While we have a way to go, and the British Red Cross are keen to see this idea germinate and develop, we have a lot to be thankful for. No disaster is welcome but it’s clear that we already have key elements, like collaboration between organisations, and individuals with passion, that will help us to weather this storm, or any other that may come our way.

For more about this work with the British Red Cross, contact Katherine at