A new partnership between the British Red Cross, and the British Psychological Society, the representative body for psychology and psychologists, will see expert help given to people affected by major emergencies in the UK.
The two organisations have teamed up to recruit specialist Psychosocial Reserve Volunteers (PRVs) who will support those experiencing trauma or emotional distress during and after a crisis.
The partnership has been forged after discussions between the two organisations that followed the major UK emergencies of 2017, the Manchester Arena bombing, the London Bridge terror attacks the Grenfell Tower fire.
Those complex and traumatic events put the spotlight on the strains that can be placed on existing mental health teams during periods of a major emergency and it became apparent that there were many mental health professionals across the UK who wanted to step up and help at times of crisis.
Inspired by a similar programme run by the Australian Red Cross and their national Psychological Society, the British Red Cross and BPS are now making it easier for professionals to play their part in an emergency response.
At first, the PRV scheme aims to recruit 100 counselling and clinical psychologists from across the UK, who will then be called upon in times of crises in their area to provide extra mental health support to people affected.
All PRVs will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council as counselling or clinical psychologists.
British Red Cross head of psychosocial and mental health Sarah Davidson said:
“As a member of the British Psychological Society myself, I am really excited to be partnering with the BPS to help us recruit the right people for these important volunteer roles.
“The Psychosocial Reserve Volunteers scheme will strengthen our current psychosocial and mental health support and allow us to respond even more effectively during an emergency.
“Our current crises responders have the basic training to deliver most of the support required, but there will be times when, because of the complexity, size or nature of events, additional capacity and additional expertise is needed.
“By partnering with an organisation to recruit specific professionals to be our volunteers and provide them with an opportunity to help others, this project will make a real difference to the lives of those people who are impacted by a tragedy.”
Sarb Bajwa, BPS chief executive officer, said:
“I’m proud that the BPS is the first organisation to partner with the British Red Cross to develop Psychosocial Reserve Volunteers (PRVs).
“By working together we are giving clinical and counselling psychologists the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in a variety of emergency responses.”
The project is supported by global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan, which has worked closely in partnership with the British Red Cross for six years.
Marsh & McLennan’s colleague fundraising helps to fund a number of British Red Cross psychosocial support services, to ensure practical and emotional support is provided to people both experiencing and responding to crises.
Marsh & McLennan’s international head of social impact, Zara Jeffery said:
“Our partnership with the British Red Cross was founded on the simple principle of being there for the moments that matter.
“Throughout our partnership, we have been committed to supporting every stage of crisis management to ensure the British Red Cross can support communities to prepare, respond and recover following crises.
“Marsh & McLennan’s colleague fundraising efforts first helped to fund British Red Cross psychosocial work in 2019 to ensure staff and volunteers had the necessary skills and confidence to deliver psychosocial support to those in need.
“When the opportunity arose to help get this ground-breaking collaboration between the British Red Cross and BPS off the ground, we were delighted to help.
“The Psychosocial Reserve Volunteer network provides an opportunity to deploy expert support in times of crisis and we hope this will leave a lasting legacy for many years to come.”
You can find out more about becoming a Psychosocial Reserve Volunteer here.
For more information about the British Red Cross visit redcross.org.uk