Volunteering to help in emergencies

Find out about:

Please read the information below before applying to be a volunteer. 

Apply to become a member

Need more information before signing up?

If you want to help your local community during an emergency but aren’t a member of emergency services or a community organisation then email us at blrf@bedsfire.gov.uk to arrange a chat about the options available.

Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC)

The Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers Executive Committee (BLEVEC) is the organisation of the volunteer members of the Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum (BLRF).

Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum (BLRF) comprises the county’s emergency services and other key partners such as local authorities, utility companies and volunteers working in partnership to plan, prepare and respond to major incidents.

BLEVEC volunteers are crucial in emergency planning, enabling statutory bodies to understand the preparedness of communities, with close bonds to local communities. BLEVEC utilises people’s willingness to help during a major emergency in a controlled, directed environment across global organisations, local businesses, charities and community teams.

BLEVEC Emergency Response Capabilities Organisations involved in the BLEVEC partnership offer a wide range of support.

Current capabilities

Here is a list of the current capabilities



Search and Rescue

  • Lowland Search and Rescue - Missing Persons
  • Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) - Collapsed Structures
  • Water Search and Rescue Team - Bank Search/Boat Team
  • Search Dogs

Flood response

  • Flood Response - Equipment and Flood Defenses
  • Water rescue trained volunteers with PPE
  • Boats

Command and control

  • An equipped and deployable Control Vehicles
  • Command and Control Support

Generic response tasks and assisting those affected

  • Leaflet/Letter Drop
  • Door-Knocking
  • Welfare Visits
  • Set-up of an emergency helpline
  • Warning and Informing - Help with getting messages out to a community

Logistics, Transport and Vehicles

  • Logistics Management
  • Assistance with evacuation of an area
  • Land transportation of people, goods or services
  • Transport to medical appointments
  • Transport of critical staff
  • 4x4 Vehicle Support - Off-Road, Winches, Towing, Trailers
  • Asset movement
  • Motorbike Transport

Aircraft and Drones

  • Drones for aerial images, video or surveillance 
  • Aircraft for aerial images, video, surveillance or the transportation of people, goods or services
  • Thermal drones


  • Emergency Food and Refreshments Provision
  • Food shopping and delivery

Donations, storage and distribution

  • Warehouse or other storage facilities
  • Management of physical donations and goods
  • Support with distribution of emergency aid
  • Hygiene kits distribution

Managing financial donations

  • Disaster Appeal Fund - management of cash donations and allocation for funds
  • Emergency cash provision

Volunteers (generic and trained) and First-Aid

  • Volunteers to help out in any task - extra people and staff
  • First-Aiders
  • Spontaneous volunteer management

Mental health and faiths support for adults and children

  • Wellbeing emergency response team 
  • Multi-faiths emergency response team
  • Assisting vulnerable adults
  • Adult Bereavement Services
  • Assisting vulnerable children
  • Childcare Services
  • Child Bereavement Services

Support for animals

  • Animal welfare support
  • Animal evacuation

Advise services

  • Advice Services (Information, Advice and Guidance)
  • Job Placement Assistance
  • Disabilities


  • Accommodation support
  • Pop-Up Shelters
  • Emergency Sanitation Facilities

Power and Lighting

  • Temporary Outside Lighting
  • Temporary Power (Generators)
  • Heavy plant machinery


  • Amateur long range radio communications between two or more locations
  • Licensed radio and emergency communications systems and operators

BLEVEC Member Organisations

This is a list of all current Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations that are Members BLEVEC:

  • ACCM (UK)
  • Advice Central (Central Bedfordshire) & Carers Central (Luton)
  • Age UK Bedfordshire
  • Airbnb.org
  • Airfield Volunteer Fire Service - Shuttleworth
  • AMYA
  • Ascension Trust
  • Bedford & District Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Bedford Council of Faiths
  • Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation (BLCF)
  • Bedfordshire Rural Communities Trust (BRCC)
  • Beds & Cambs 4x4 Response
  • Billy Grahams Rapid Response Team
  • BIRD (British International Search & Rescue Dogs)
  • British Red Cross
  • Business In the Community
  • Central Bedfordshire Citizens Advice Bureau's (Leighton Linslade, Dunstable & District, Mid Bedfordshire)
  • Central Bedfordshire Neighbourhood Watch Association
  • Chaplaincy, Bedfordshire Hospitals
  • CHUMS (Emotional Wellbeing and Bereavement Service for children and families)
  • Citizens Advice Luton
  • Civil Air Support
  • Community Action: MK
  • Community Interest Luton
  • CRUSE Bereavement
  • CVS Bedfordshire
  • Disability Resource Centre (DRC)
  • Emergency Response Team - SAR
  • Herts Boat Rescue
  • Independent Group of Royal Voluntary Service Volunteers
  • Keech Hospice
  • Leighton Linslade Helpers
  • Level Trust
  • London Luton Airport Chaplaincy Emergency Response Team
  • Luton Council of Faith
  • Luton Irish Forum
  • Luton Law Centre
  • Midshires Search & Rescue (MSAR)
  • National Emergencies Support Line (NESL)
  • National Emergencies Trust (NET)
  • NOAH Enterprise
  • Plymouth Brethren - Rapid Response Team (RRT)
  • RE:ACT
  • Road Victims Trust
  • Rotary International
  • Salvation Army
  • Salvation Army - Modern Slavery Contract Management Team
  • Samaritans
  • SERV - Bloodrunners
  • Signpost - Bedfordshire Victim Care Services (Bedfordshire Police support for victims of crime)
  • SPEAR Search & Rescue
  • Sports Management Consultancy Ltd (Wicketz)
  • St John Ambulance
  • The Joint Civil Aid Corps
  • Thermal Drone Support Bedfordshire
  • Victim Support
  • Voluntary Services, Bedfordshire Hospitals (Part of the Bedfordshire Hospitals Charity)


BLEVEC aims to:

  • develop a large network of voluntary community support (VCS) organisations
  • develop a large network of business volunteers
  • have a community emergency response team (CERT) set up in every village, town or parish
  • have a large group of trained independent emergency volunteers
  • have a group of highly trained and equipped Commanders to coordinate the response effort and be leaders in multi-agency command and control groups
  • develop a network of faith leaders that can provide advice, expertise and support to responders and those affected by an emergency

How to get involved

There are a number of different groups and roles available to get involved with BLEVEC:

  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Member Organisation
  • BLEVEC Commander
  • BLEVEC Business Member
  • BLEVEC Independent Emergency Volunteer
  • BLEVEC Emergency Faith Advisor

Support for you

If you're involved with BLEVEC you will:

  • have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week support from the BLEVEC Duty Officer
  • be invited to monthly training sessions on emergency management (currently virtual) from 7pm to 9pm on the second Tuesday of each month
  • get access to various Bedfordshire Emergency WhatsApp groups with all BLEVEC members included for fast call out deployment, information gathering and communications
  • be supported by the BLEVEC committee. They meet twice a year with a representative from each organisation and CERT. The committee provides a forum to discuss issues, lessons from incidents and how to make improvements for the future

What is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)?

A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a group of local members, linked directly with BLEVEC and the local council Emergency Planning Team. They provide important information, intelligence and a quick form of communication should an incident occur.

A CERT group should include people and organisations that help sustain the community. For example:

  • town or parish council
  • local emergency service workers
  • Neighbourhood Watch
  • community group leaders
  • local schools
  • GP surgery and local doctors or nurses
  • pharmacy
  • care homes
  • local shop, Post Office or takeaway
  • a place of worship
  • local farmers/people with specialist equipment (generators etc.)
  • local charities
  • community/village hall and key holders

A CERT can help the community become more resilient in the following ways

Before an emergency

A CERT will:

  • warn and inform
  • help individuals and families prepare for emergencies
  • complete a Community Emergency Plan
  • take delivery and manage a small emergency kit - If there is a risk of flooding there may be a need for a community flood kit
  • promote business continuity to local businesses and schools
  • identify hazards
  • Identify vulnerable people
  • help in pre-planned incidents with community impact assessment
  • promote community fire safety
  • notifying authorities of blocked drainage ditches
  • local water supply knowledge: lakes, access, hard standing, hydrants

During an emergency

A CERT will:

  • be involved in information and intelligence gathering and monitoring
  • set-up and run assistance centres to provide practical and emotional support
  • help with warning, informing and assisting the vulnerable
  • assist in snow and ice clearance
  • deploy community resources to assist people and emergency services
  • provide emergency first-aid

After an emergency

A CERT will:

  • provide a voice for the community
  • run a community recovery centre
  • do an impact assessment
  • identify community needs and priorities
  • organise community and business meetings
  • identify and assist with animal and pet health and welfare
  • assist in managing commemorations
  • identify lessons for the future

Further information on Independent Emergency Volunteers

Emergency volunteers may be deployed to an incident where assistance is required by statutory authorities and emergency services. The incident may be a local situation, a major incident or a prolonged emergency:

  • a major fire resulting in the evacuation of residents
  • impact of severe adverse weather - snow, flooding, storms
  • a major incident involving aircraft, vehicles, trains
  • the aftermath of a terrorist incident
  • a pandemic situation where vulnerable people are at risk

In most cases, volunteers will be deployed to an Assistance Centre or Evacuation Centre and asked to undertake a range of tasks dependent on capabilities and skills.

This could include:

  • transporting people or material
  • car park marshalling
  • registering those coming in and out of the centre
  • looking after children or young people
  • facilities management - keeping centres adequately supplied and clean
  • providing refreshments
  • providing emotional or mental health support
  • providing advice and guidance
  • providing basic hygiene and welfare packs

Volunteers work as part of a team with a supervising team leader, working on a shift basis that may last between six to 12 hours.

Specific requirements for an emergency volunteer

Emergency volunteers will need:

  • DBS clearance
  • to undergo induction by BLEVEC or a voluntary organisation
  • to attend an Assistance Centre Operative training session
  • a high level of interpersonal skills
  • good communication ability
  • awareness of equality and diversity issues and non-discriminatory practice
  • awareness and ability to follow safeguarding procedures for vulnerable groups
  • to cope with a chaotic environment and constantly changing demands
  • to work as part of a team of volunteers
  • to identify own personal practical and emotional needs, ensuring self-wellbeing

Further information on BLEVEC Commanders

BLEVC Commanders will be at the forefront of emergency response that requires the assistance of BLEVEC emergency volunteers.

Commanders are trained to know the capabilities of all BLEVEC Organisations and be directly involved in the command and control groups along with the emergency services, local authorities, health and all other key emergency responders. Commanders will receive a resource pack containing essential items for responding to an emergency.

There are three commander roles.

  1. BLEVEC Strategic Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Strategic Coordinating Group (SCG) or on the Recovery Coordinating Group (RCG)

  2. BLEVEC Tactical Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Tactical Coordinating Group (TCG) and/or a BLRF Teleconference

  3. BLEVEC Operational Commander: represent the BLEVEC partnership and members at the Forward Control Point (FCP) at the scene of an emergency or at a specific operational location.  A BLEVEC Commander will assess the situation, suggest where volunteer resources might be useful and deal with requests for volunteer resources from the emergency services.

Further information on Business Members

Private businesses can sign-up to offer assistance to communities in a major emergency.

This could be part of a corporate social responsibility policy and the support offered could be in the form of a business service, food & refreshments, donation of goods, transport, storage or time towards aiding during an emergency. Businesses may also wish to link directly to the local CERT.

Further information on Emergency Faith Advisors

Faith Advisors play an important role in providing culturally and religiously appropriate solace to victims to help them endure and overcome the stress from the trauma of an incident. Faith Advisors provide emotional support as part of a wider team, which may include other groups providing secular support, such as the Samaritans. The Emergency Faith Advisors Group links directly to the emergency response and recovery network.

Mental Wellbeing Emergency Response Team

In every emergency and major incident as well as the practical impact on people’s lives such as being evacuated, homes being flooded, and not being able to get essential supplies, there will also be a mental health impact.

The impact of a traumatic event can result in shock, distress, fear, confusion, and anxiety. In the longer term if not properly supported individuals may develop post-traumatic shock, and depression and it may even lead to suicidal thoughts.

Our Mental Wellbeing Emergency Response Team join our emergency response efforts to help people look after their mental health needs in and after an emergency and have the skills and knowledge to link into longer-term wellbeing services.