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Voluntary sector vital to terror plan.

Voluntary organisations such as the Salvation Army should be included in plans for dealing with a terrorist attack so they can offer tea and sympathy to the victims, according to the Bishop of Coventry.

He urged Ministers to remember the vital role of the voluntary sector as he spoke in the House of Lords.

The Bishop, The Right Rev Colin Bennetts, said: 'We must be careful not to under play the so-called 'soft' elements of care that are so important, such as refreshments for the emergency services, a cup of tea or coffee, a caring word or a listening ear.

'These are not additional extras, but provide vital respite for people undergoing incredibly stressful situations.'

The Lords was debating the Government's Civil Contingencies Bill, which creates a mechanism for dealing with largescale terrorist attacks.

The bishop highlighted organisations such as the British Red Cross, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service, the Salvation Army and St John Ambulance.

He said: 'Time after time the country has been wonderfully served by our emergency services, and I pay tribute to them.

'Many people are alive today because of their bravery and professionalism. However, behind the immediate impact of a disaster, be that an accident or terrorist incident, lies a problem that is more diffuse but very challenging.

'That problem is the emotional and psychological distress that many people involved in emergency situations, and their families, go through both during and after the event.

'There are of course many caring and sensitive people in the emergency services, but their priority in an emergency situation must be the physical well-being and safety of individuals.

'It is the voluntary sector that can take pressure off the emergency services by caring for the emotional needs of survivors and families.'

The bishop continued: 'It is absolutely vital that robust processes are put in place to ensure a co-ordinated response from those who could help to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of those caught up in disasters. It is exactly this kind of holistic care that is so necessary in a traumatic situation.'

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The Right Rev Colin Bennetts
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 7, 2004
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