The Big Lottery Fund has today announced a £1 million package to help Cumbrian communities become more resilient. This comes in the wake of December’s devastating floods, and will help local people, communities and organisations to prepare for similar events in the future.
The ‘Rebuilding Together’ programme will take place over the next 3 years, led by Cumbria CVS and delivered in partnership with Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) and Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) – three local charities with a long history of working together to support Cumbrian communities and organisations.
“I am delighted we have secured this funding from the Big Lottery” said Karen Bowen, Chief Officer, Cumbria CVS. “It will allow us all to build on the work we have done with communities, local organisations and volunteers since the floods. We’ll be drawing on the expertise of specialist organisations and national best practice to produce plans for the future.”
As part of the programme, ACT, the county’s community development and rural charity will be working closely with local communities, supporting them with emergency planning and resilience activities as it has done for many years.
Communities will be helped to write or upate their own emergency plans; networks of community emergency planning groups will be developed and effective links between community emergency groups and statutory responders will be encouraged.
ACT’s Chief Executive Lorrainne Smyth said: “This is a much needed injection of resource into supporting individuals, households and communities to consider what they can do in preparing for and bouncing back after extreme events such as last year’s floods.
“Communities have told us how local knowledge has informed the actions taken in emergency situations to protect the most vulnerable and reduce negative impacts for all. Being prepared is proven as a key to increasing the resilience of people and communities.
“Working with the statutory agencies and other partners, we will support communities to have a voice, through the Community Resilience Network. We will also assist them to agree and take practical and evidence based action to make a difference to personal and community resilience in Cumbria.”
For their part, Cumbria CVS will be working with both volunteers and local charities to build resilience. Local charities will be encouraged to develop emergency plans for their own organisation, and to consider how they can help the people they work with to plan for emergencies. The project will also link these third sector organisations to Cumbria Resilience Forum, helping ensure they understand the county’s emergency plans and can continue to play a key role supporting the statutory sector in the response to and recovery from emergencies.
Angela Jones, Chair of the Community Recovery Group said: “Communities and voluntary organisations played an important role in the response to the 2015 floods, and are playing an ongoing role in recovery. This project will help to build on the partnerships we already have, and support local communities and organisations to increase their resilience and confidence to respond alongsidestatutory organisations.”
December’s floods saw an overwhelming number of people volunteering to help in Cumbria – between local people and incoming groups, over 50,000 hours of volunteer work were accounted for in the first couple of months. The project will explore how best to coordinate these volunteers, and provide appropriate training and support for them.
With CAfS engaged as a partner, households and communities will receive essential guidance regarding property refurbishments, integrating energy efficiency improvements and retrofitting flood resilience measures. Advice, guidance and energy audits will be provided to individuals amongst a host of other measures. Communities who wish to take action to tackle climate change, as one of the root causes of recent flooding, will be given structured support to develop low carbon, sustainable projects, many of which will generate income for the local community.
Hazel Graham, Chief Executive, CAfS said: “With the MET office clearly stating that extreme weather events are seven times more likely on a planet with human-made climate change, it is essential that we start to tackle the root causes.
“I am delighted that this funding has been secured to allow us to start to think about integrating flood resilience measures with climate change mitigation. At CAfS we have already been approached by communities affected by December’s floods who wish to respond by treating the root cause, by taking action to tackle climate change in their area.”
The project will also involve a number of other specialist organisations including National Flood Forum, Lancaster University’s National Parks Research Centre, CLASP, Cumbria Community Foundation and the Rivers Trusts. It will continue to work alongside public sector organisations including Cumbria County Council, District Councils and the Environment Agency.
The project will start in October 2016. Anyone who would like more details can contact Cumbria CVS in the first instance on on 01768 800350 or visit the website: www.cumbriacvs.org.uk