Live sketching was used to illustrate the discussions

©BRC

This is a guest blog from Corinne Evans, head of UK operations communications.

When the Mongol army went into battle, they wore flowing robes of silk. Unlike European chainmail armour, which was easily pierced, the fine mesh of silk enfolded spinning arrows and protected the flesh beneath.

So said clinical psychologist Elie Godsi, one of the many inspiring speakers at the British Red Cross conference on resilience yesterday.

Elie’s story illustrated a point that recurred throughout the day. Resilience is not just about strength – bricks and mortar, infrastructures and systems. ‘Softer’ things like relationships and human connections are equally important.

Resilience is about people
During the day, we heard tales of individual bravery, of grassroots campaigning and of communities coming together to cope in a crisis. The one thing all these stories had in common? They showed that resilience, at its heart, depends on people.

As an emergency response organisation, the Red Cross knows that the first people to respond to a crisis are those on the ground – people who are themselves affected.

Imagine your community was affected by flooding. How would you prepare? Who would you go to for help? How would you keep your family warm and fed without electricity? Who in your community might need your help – and would you reach out?

Let local communities take the lead
There is a lesson here for all big organisations – from local government authorities to us at the Red Cross.

Yes, it’s essential for organisations to provide advice, and help people discuss and plan ahead. However, their job is not to impose this information, but to enable local people to take a lead.

This way, if a crisis breaks down the solid structures that usually protect communities, people will still have their own home-spun resilience to protect them.

If you attended, what did you get out of the day? Carry on the conversation in the comments below or on twitter (#resilienceconf).