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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Government and support organisations after a major incident

There are many government and support organisations that are available to help if you, a relative, or a friend have been involved in a major incident. There are also a number of voluntary organisations that help in specific situations.

Role of central government

The information below gives some background on the roles and responsibilities of government departments in planning and coordinating the immediate response and longer term recovery from a major incident.

Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS)

CCS is part of the Cabinet Office and works in partnership with government departments, the devolved administrations and key stakeholders in the private and voluntary sectors to enhance the UK's ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.

Devolved administrations

The UK Parliament has devolved a range of issues to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. The link below explains who has responsibility in these countries during a major incident.

Humanitarian Assistance Unit (HAU)

The HAU within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was established in 2005 and has responsibility within Government for coordinating support in the UK for those affected by major disasters.

If you are having difficulty accessing support services or you wish to contact the team, then there are different ways to contact the HAU:


Write to:

HAU, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

The FCO is a network of people working in the UK and in over 200 Embassies and Consulates abroad. When a consular emergency occurs, such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, the FCO’s London-based Crisis Management Team takes the lead in responding to provide fast consular assistance to British nationals overseas.

Foreign embassies in the UK

Embassies within the UK will act on behalf of those relatives and friends abroad concerned about people from overseas who may have been involved in an incident in the UK.

Role of local government and services

In emergencies, local authorities coordinate the provision of welfare support to the community and take on a key role in the recovery phase of emergencies. Local authorities have their own websites which can provide people with information on services and support available.

Transport operators and utilities

In the event of a transport emergency, some transport operators are likely to contribute to the response to families, survivors and affected communities in the aftermath.


Incident Care Teams (ICTs) may be deployed by the train operating company to provide assistance as needed by those affected.

Air travel

In the event of an incident involving a UK registered aircraft or aircraft carrying UK citizens, the airline operator may activate its own emergency passenger information call centre. In this situation the relevant telephone number will be broadcast in the media and here on Directgov.

Voluntary and other support organisations

There are a wide range of support organisations that offer assistance, advice and support in the UK, which may be helpful to you. These include:

  • established groups such as the British Red Cross, WRVS, Salvation Army, Victim Support Services and Cruse Bereavement Care, providing a range of services
  • organisations that specialise in emotional support, such as the Samaritans
  • Disaster Action - they can provide practical and emotional support and its members have each had direct experience of major emergencies

For local support groups, contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.

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