4 December 2009
Bob CollierAs residents in Cumbria start to pick up the pieces following the recent unprecedented floods, volunteers are helping them with the long, complicated process of rebuilding their lives.
The Red Cross is providing help at three flood support centres in Cockermouth, Keswick and Ulverston. The multi-agency centres include local council representatives, utility companies, support services and representatives from the mortgage and insurance industries.
Residents can also get basic advice on how to deal with day-to-day problems caused by the floods.
Volunteers and staff at the centres are helping register all those who have been affected by the floods and ascertaining what help they need.
Red Cross volunteers have also been raising awareness of the three centres so as many residents as possible can get the help they need. They are travelling round the worst-affected areas, delivering information leaflets and checking whether residents need support.
Tom PurslowService manager Val Steel spent several days in Cockermouth. She said: “Many people are still a bit shocked and confused by all that’s happened, so our volunteers are there to provide sound, practical advice and help them work out exactly what steps they need to take.”
She added: “With the Casson family, for example, besides offering emotional support we also helped put them in touch with insurance advisors and the Citizens Advice Bureau. For such families, it’s invaluable to know that they have someone to hand who they can depend on for support.”
Volunteer David Taylor is helping at the flood support centre in Cockermouth. He said: “I’m proud to be part of the Red Cross. Just saying those two words opens doors and gives people a sense of security that someone is there to help.
Bob Collier“Since the support centre opened, we’ve been helping people who needed simple things like baby milk, bus times, insurance advice – or sometimes just a hug and a kind word. It’s the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.”
He added: “Over the past ten years, the Red Cross has helped with an increasing number of disasters in the UK. The experience our volunteers have gained from these disasters will be crucial in enabling us to help Cumbria County Council and local agencies support people over the coming months.”
Chief executive Nick Young said: “This has been a huge operation – and it’s not over yet. We know from our experiences in Morpeth last year that continued support, long after the waters have subsided, is essential to help a community get back on its feet.”
The British Red Cross has also donated £20,000 from its UK Disaster Fund to the Cumbria Community Foundation.
Read our emergency responder's blog from the centre of Cockermouth
Read our blog about the Cockermouth floods
How to prepare for emergencies
Preparing for floods and flooding
Become an emergency response volunteer