Solving problems as a community

One of the objectives of the Hub is to solve problems using the resources and skills the community has available – meeting people’s needs with the community’s offers of assistance. 

There are some fundamental, basic needs common to every disaster that will need to be addressed. Preservation of life is the highest priority, including rescue and medical attention to those who are injured, and checking on people to make sure they are safe. The other basic needs are shelter, water, food, and sanitation. You may also need to deal with the wellbeing of pets or livestock, and other issues that may come up. 
Some communities have already done some prior planning around these problems, as part of their local Community Response Planning process, and potential solutions and offers from key organisations are included in Your community’s response section. For those areas that haven’t been through this process, that section includes questions, which may help you find local solutions. 

The Needs and Offers Boards 

  • The Needs and Offers Boards are a tool for managing and tracking what the community needs, what offers of assistance have been made by individuals or organisations, and matching them up when a solution presents itself. 
  • People in need of assistance go to the Needs Board and people who have a resource or skill go to the Offers Board. The people managing the boards match up the needs with the offers of assistance coming from the community. For example, people needing accommodation are matched with people offering spare rooms in their house. 
  • Someone will need to manage these boards, and might need extra assistance depending on the scale and duration of the event. 

Needs and Offers role and tasks

Address all life-threatening needs immediately

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  • Attempt to contact the emergency services by phoning 111. 
  • Make sure the Hub Supervisor is advised as soon as possible. 
  • Pass the information to the Emergency Operations Centre through the Communications team. 

Set up display boards for Needs and Offers

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Set up display boards near the entrance to the Hub marked “Offers” and “Needs”. You may also need tables to make it easier to collect and write requests and offers. 

Use notes to record and display community offers and requests for assistance

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Make sure people record: 

  • Date & time (especially if the offer or need expires – e.g. a place to stay until Monday). 
  • Name and contact details of the person or organisation posting the message, or where to find them. 
  • A clear description of what is needed or what is offered. 

Match offers with requests for assistance

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Check the new offers or requests for assistance to see whether you know of an existing need or offer that matches. 

Display requests for assistance (Needs) or offers of assistance (Offers) on the boards: 

  • Group Needs by themes such as labour required, accommodation, clean-up equipment etc. 
  • Group Offers by themes such as equipment, manual labour, shelter, food, water, etc. 

Keep the boards up to date

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  • Remove requests when the need has been matched with an offer. 
  • Note how the problem was solved, it may be useful again. Do not destroy completed notes, keep them for the Hub records. 
  • Remove offers when they have been used up or are no longer available. 

Significant Offers or Needs

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  • In some cases offers may be large (e.g. from a supermarket) or be a critical resource or skill needed by many. 
  • Requests for assistance could also be large or life-threatening (e.g. people needing rescue). These requests should be forwarded to the Hub Supervisor to make sure the community response is coordinated and the Emergency Operations Centre is informed. 

If you come across any information that could affect the community, the running of the Hub, or the wider response to the emergency, pass it on to the Information Coordination team. 

Working as a team

Find out more about other hub roles: