Friday, 8 January 2016

A Flood Of Support

The last month of 2015 was officially the wettest December on record. Thousands of people in the North of England and Scotland have been displaced, facing months of repair work and wrangling with insurance companies. For many, it has been a very unmerry Christmas.

Charities have been stepping up to help those in need, showing once again that Britain is a country that, while a little reticent, can pull out the stops when it needs to. Over £8million has already been raised for flood victims, a cool million coming from the most unlikely of sources: Daily Mail readers.

The Cumbria Community Foundation's Flood Recovery Fund, meanwhile, has smashed that barrier, raising £4.3million since December 4th. There were over 16,000 individual donations to reach that astonishing figure. Ian Brown, head of the Foundation, said:

“It’s very heart-warming and encouraging to see the overwhelming support of our local communities during this challenging time.”
But fundraising can only do so much. Help is urgently needed in the heart of affected communities. Here too, smaller charities have been making a difference.

One charity making headlines is Khalsa Aid. Based in Slough, this Sikh non-profit packed their bags and headed north to help stricken towns and villages like Mytholmroyd and Croston, badly hit after the river Calder burst its banks. Dishing out free food, it became clear to both the charity workers and the people they were helping that catastrophic events can fundamentally change people.

Ravi Singh, CEO of Khalsa Aid, put it simply:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring to see how people of all backgrounds have come together. There was no twiddling thumbs waiting for the government or authorities to help. They rallied around and they got stuck in. I think the experience will have a long-lasting effect on these communities.”
This sort of immediate action, unprompted by appeals or official calls for aid have been, for many, a wake-up call. Groups of Syrian refugees, demonised by some areas of the press, were seen helping with flood clearance efforts across the Calder Valley, shovelling silt from a playground in Mytholmroyd, or filling sandbags in Rochdale. Interfaith groups have been on the ground from the first day of the storms, offering food and warm clothing to people in need, working all hours for as long as they are needed. The preconceptions of a lot of people have been radically changed in the past couple of weeks.

Our View: it's easy in this age of supposed disconnection and selfishness to feel bleak about the world in which we live. But often, it's in the face of disaster that we are at our best, rallying round to help those in need in whatever way we can. People that last week scoffed at charities or took a dim view of certain ethnic groups are seeing that there is a lot more to the word "community" than they had thought.

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