A civilian support network that allows quick mobilization of volunteers.

Case study

The Ready2Help initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross is a civilian support network initiated in November 2014 to engage willing people whenever help is needed. Whenever a response in an area needs extra human capacity quickly, Ready2Helpers in an area are called in via a text message. The Netherlands Red Cross coordinates the deployment of Ready2Helpers with the Ministry of Security and Justice, professional emergency services, and (in very exceptional cases) the army. All residents of the Netherlands over the age of 18 with a mobile phone and an email can sign up to join the network. Registration can easily be completed online either via a link to a social media account or by email. Civilians are added into a database after registering. The initiative operates across the Netherlands and has been particularly involved in the provision of extra help for the migrant influx into the Netherlands. Ready2Helpers supported the setup and management of refugee reception centres. Helpers set up of beds, distributed food and transported migrants.

Other examples. Other initiatives similar to Ready2Help exist in Australia, Austria and the US. Furthermore, the Swedish Red Cross is instituting a mechanism for standby volunteers to be quickly and efficiently mobilized similar to Ready2Help. The need for such a mechanism was highlighted following the large influx of migrants into the country in 2015.

  • Navigating the process from idea to the launch of the network.
  • Maintaining commitment from stakeholders throughout the setup and implementation of the initiative.
  • Long-term funding.
Lessons learned
  • A clear structure is needed when operating a Ready2Help deployment.
  • It is important for Ready2Help to be embedded strongly in the National Society.
  • It is important to know more about the people in the network. The Netherlands Red Cross is currently carrying out social community research to find out what the motivation is of the people in the Ready2Help network and in what kind of situations they want to help.
  • It is key to optimize the IT-system to alert the network.
The Netherlands