RAYNET-UK

RAYNET - An introduction

Who are we?

RAYNET-UK is the UK’s national voluntary communications service provided for the community by licensed radio amateurs.

The organisation was formed in 1953 following the East Coast floods, when radio amateurs provided emergency communications.

What do we do?

We can provide a flexible communications service for major civil emergencies or related exercises and local community events.

What have we done?

RAYNET has provided additional communications at major incidents involving aircraft, trains, flooding, evacuations, telephone exchange failures, missing persons searches, adverse weather, oil/chemical pollution etc. Examples include:

  • Lockerbie air crash
  • Severn Tunnel incident
  • Towyn flooding, North Wales
  • Portland WWII bomb evacuation
  • Sea Empress oil pollution disaster

We have also provided safety communications for large-scale community events, such as:

  • London Marathon
  • Mildenhall Air Fete
  • Great North Run/Great South Run
  • Many charity cycle rides
  • Long-distance walks and orienteering
  • Endurance horse rides

How do we do it?

RAYNET volunteers normally use their own equipment to provide communications. Voice transmissions are the norm, but typed messages in the form of data transmissions are being increasingly used, allowing 100% accurate messages to be passed over both long and short distances.

In some areas, experimentation is also under way with the use of vehicle-tracking systems and amateur television.

Whom do we do it for?

RAYNET, under the terms of the amateur radio licence, is permitted to pass messages on behalf of

  • Any UK Police force, Fire & Rescue service or Ambulance trust.
  • HM Coastguard
  • Local Authority Emergency Planning Officers
  • Any health authority
  • Any government department
  • British Red Cross
  • St John Ambulance
  • St Andrew’s Ambulance Association
  • RVS
  • Salvation Army
  • Any utility service

How are we organised?

RAYNET comprises a national network of local groups, who liaise with emergency services, local authorities and other voluntary agencies who could be involved in the integrated management response to major civil emergencies.

Groups are supported by a County/Regional, Zonal and National structure.

All registered members of RAYNET-UK whilst on duty are covered by "Public Liability" & "Employers Liability" insurance, together with Personal Accident Insurance under policies held nationally by RAYNET-UK.

How do we train?

Groups work with the emergency services and local authority emergency planning units on both live exercises and table-top simulations. It is, of course, important to have “hands on” experience regularly and throughout the year and to carry out training to nationally agreed standards.

RAYNET personnel provide additional safety communications for local fun runs, marathons, car rallies and a wide variety of events, whereby message passing, engineering skills and operational procedures can be tried and tested.

What can we offer?

In times of major civil emergency, existing communications can become rapidly overloaded.

RAYNET can offer:

  • Additional flexible communication links to complement established systems
  • Members who come from a variety of backgrounds and can bring with them a wide range of skills, knowledge and expertise
  • Established local contacts
  • A national 24hr emergency contact telephone number (0303 040 1080)

How do you contact us?

Full contact details can be found on this page.

This document

Download this document as a PDF file (19K), suitable for distributing to user services as a 3-fold leaflet.


A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2771954.
Registered office Far Cockcroft, Rishworth, Sowerby Bridge HX6 4SB.
Charity registered in England and Wales number 1047725 and in Scotland number SC046184.
Correspondence address: 9 Conigre, CHINNOR. OX39 4JY.