Charity Profile: Sussex Search and Rescue
A 100 per cent volunteer-run organisation, Sussex Search & Rescue (SusSAR) is one of many Lowland Search & Rescue units which exist across the country. With a team on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whatever the weather, the team exists to serve the community of Sussex through the goodwill of their members and charitable donations and can be called out by Sussex Police and neighbouring units at any time day or night. We spoke to them to find out more.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Sussex Search & Rescue (SusSAR) is the primary volunteer resource used by Sussex Police to search for and rescue vulnerable missing people. We were formed in 2002 following the Sarah Payne inquiry and our membership of 50 volunteers is spread right across the county. As well as providing Sussex Police with a professionally trained search asset, we can also be called upon to assist with civil resilience matters i.e. in response to adverse weather, and during major incidents.
How do you raise money?
As we are self-funded, fundraising is an integral part of what we have to do in order to continue as a unit. We often offer support for events, mainly in the form of marshalling at large sporting or community events. A major activity we partake in for raising funds is ‘bucket shakes’ outside supermarkets and shops and on high streets.
How important are volunteers to SusSAR, and what sort of things do they do?
Membership of SusSAR involves quite a considerable commitment in terms of time, effort and money. We hold two training evenings a month at various locations across Sussex. Attendance at callouts is expected wherever possible, and these can occur during the day or at night. Members are also asked to attend fundraising events, in order to help keep the team operational.
Joining the team involves an initial four-to-six-month probationary period, followed by attendance and successful completion of a weekend training course in search skills. Being volunteers, all members provide their own kit, transport and fuel costs. We currently don’t have any vacancies for operational membership, although we would be delighted to hear from you should you be looking to help with fundraising for us.
What does the future hold for SusSAR?
SusSAR is growing; we have a large team of over 50 operational and non-operational members, but we need more funds to be able to accommodate any more. We have expanded from just being a land search team to now having a fully qualified water search team and helicopter support competencies.
The lack of funding sometimes makes it challenging for us as a unit, which is why we also work hard and give up our free time by working as marshals for sporting events and doing bucket shakes at weekends to raise the vital funds we need. However, we still rely heavily on generous donations – which are few and far between – to continue operating as a unit. We have recently announced Sally Gunnell as our Patron and look forward to working with her going forwards to help grow SusSAR.
Sussex Search & Rescue