What it means to be Inclusive
Think of community groups and citizens as a resource. Let them know they are needed, and act accordingly. Invite groups, and join them at their meetings, to inform them about the specific needs and vulnerabilities within your local community or jurisdiction. Arrange social occasions, such as “risk excursions”, where representatives of the municipality, local authorities and community groups go on a local tour to inspect and discuss potential dangers and vulnerabilities. Include community groups in preparedness activities and exercises. Let them know you need them and expect their participation. Avoid giving the impression that all necessary resources are located within the professional structure.
- Think of community groups and citizens as a resource and act accordingly.
- Keep in mind that most people are willing to engage as volunteers in the event of a crisis.
- Recognize heterogeneity within community groups as an asset.
- Create social spaces for collaboration and initiate joint exercises to be done in common.
- Think of community groups and citizens’ diverse needs and preferences for communication.
Guidelines to be Inclusive
In tackling the wide variety of tasks pertaining to societal safety, the present time offers good opportunities for bringing together the various resources and competences that already exist. This means that heterogeneity regarding such factors as gender, age or life stage, education, and socioeconomic status should be understood as an opportunity in the context of improved crisis management. The present project has reported several positive examples of municipal representatives who consider their voluntary grassroots organizations and groups to be their most precious tools for facilitating the quick and effective mobilization of relevant local resources (Linnell et al. 2013). The importance of joint exercises and the willingness of citizens to participate in them was clearly pointed out by the members of voluntary groups involved in the present project. Hence a major opportunity for municipal safety coordinators and those in similar positions would be to recognize this and include the organized voluntary public in preparedness exercises programmes. Rapid technological development also creates new means to include and communicate with various publics and communication networks. However, not all citizens use the new digital media, and thus, gaps in knowledge may emerge in the event of a crisis. Therefore, it is important to adapt crisis communication to diverse needs and preferences in order to include different groups, such as the young, elderly, natives, immigrants, and urban and rural inhabitants.