Engaging spontaneous volunteers: Melvin Hartley

Engaging spontaneous volunteers: Melvin Hartley

Engaging spontaneous volunteers: Melvin Hartley

Introduction

In the past decade, the contribution of spontaneous volunteers in emergency incidents has increased substantially, but they are not yet part of the official response organisations.

"A Churchill Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and continues beyond the research trip itself." - Melvin Hartley, Fellow

Local council resilience manager Melvin Hartley (CF 2019) has been leading a co-ordinated project to engage and work with spontaneous volunteers during the pandemic. Spontaneous volunteers are people who provide support at the scene of a disaster or emergency, such as helping evacuees, assisting with searches and cleaning up after storms and floods. Within his local borough in Eastleigh, West Hampshire, Melvin has worked directly with three spontaneous volunteer groups that were formed as a direct response to Covid-19. As part of this, he helped to set up a local response centre to provide help to those who are vulnerable, shielding or self-isolating. So far over 1,000 volunteers within the community have carried out tasks such as shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking and carrying out regular check-ins with people in need of support.

Melvin received a Covid-19 Action Fund grant to support this work and will be gathering learnings and best practice from his council's response, as well as other localised responses across the UK. He will use these to make recommendations to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, which writes national guidance. Melvin will also share his findings, via the creation of a dedicated website and report, with local resilience forums, emergency planning bodies and councils, in order to guide them during ongoing and future crises.

Melvin has been a volunteer throughout his adult life and became interested in the involvement of volunteers during times of crisis. He observed that the management of volunteers at emergency incidents often lacked co-ordination, and he was keen to explore other approaches. His Fellowship took him to the Netherlands, Germany and the USA to investigate the management of spontaneous volunteers at emergency incidents.

Melvin says, “A Churchill Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and continues beyond the research trip itself. It has been an incredible experience meeting so many wonderful and inspiring people and learning so much from them – which provided me professionally with a chance to make a positive difference in my field of work.”

"A Churchill Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and continues beyond the research trip itself." - Melvin Hartley, Fellow

Local council resilience manager Melvin Hartley (CF 2019) has been leading a co-ordinated project to engage and work with spontaneous volunteers during the pandemic. Spontaneous volunteers are people who provide support at the scene of a disaster or emergency, such as helping evacuees, assisting with searches and cleaning up after storms and floods. Within his local borough in Eastleigh, West Hampshire, Melvin has worked directly with three spontaneous volunteer groups that were formed as a direct response to Covid-19. As part of this, he helped to set up a local response centre to provide help to those who are vulnerable, shielding or self-isolating. So far over 1,000 volunteers within the community have carried out tasks such as shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking and carrying out regular check-ins with people in need of support.

Melvin received a Covid-19 Action Fund grant to support this work and will be gathering learnings and best practice from his council's response, as well as other localised responses across the UK. He will use these to make recommendations to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, which writes national guidance. Melvin will also share his findings, via the creation of a dedicated website and report, with local resilience forums, emergency planning bodies and councils, in order to guide them during ongoing and future crises.

Melvin has been a volunteer throughout his adult life and became interested in the involvement of volunteers during times of crisis. He observed that the management of volunteers at emergency incidents often lacked co-ordination, and he was keen to explore other approaches. His Fellowship took him to the Netherlands, Germany and the USA to investigate the management of spontaneous volunteers at emergency incidents.

Melvin says, “A Churchill Fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and continues beyond the research trip itself. It has been an incredible experience meeting so many wonderful and inspiring people and learning so much from them – which provided me professionally with a chance to make a positive difference in my field of work.”