If you’re looking for a way to restore your faith in humanity, you should look no further than Cumbria. The sheer volume of people prepared to reach out and offer their homes, their rooms, their belongings, and their skills to those families and others who have lost everything in the devastation left by Storm Desmond, is testament to the pragmatic, down-to-earth attitudes and good will that is carried by so many Cumbrians and offcomers who live in the region.
It isn’t possible to truly cover the enormity of the generosity and caring behaviour that has taken place in Cumbria this week in just one article, but this post is just a taster of the thousands of offers of help and assistance.
This is what community spirit looks like
What’s really stood out this last week is that so many small business owners have offered their free and heavily discounted services and supplies.
See, it’s great the Church getting a group of willing volunteers together, or even the WI, the Rotary Club, local Lions, and Freemasons, and other local groups, but somehow you’d expect that. It might be wrong to, but you would.
Charity is a big part of a lot of local groups, from Girl Guides to silver bands and so on; in a way, it’s part of their raison d’etre, so although it’s a great thing, and their highly skilled efforts are appreciated as much as everyone else’s, they are effectively part of the infrastructure of the country for when disasters like this happen. Certainly appreciated, but somehow expected, a bit like the Prime Minister’s ‘Big Society’ notion.
But it’s when those businesses and individuals who might have otherwise legitimately profitted from the disaster show through their generous and empathic actions that they want to help others, rather than themselves, you know that you’ve found a hotspot of community spirit.
Center Parcs at Whinfell, Penrith, donated £10,000 and hundreds of quilts and pillows for elderly victims of the flood.
What these really special people have done is ensure a real chance of survival for those who watched their Christmas wash away downstream last weekend. More than survival. It means that some people who wouldn’t have been able to afford some of the work needed to make their homes liveable again, will be able to access that. Some folks in Cumbria are really genuinely broke. Those food banks that already existed prior to the flood were needed.
But no matter what each person’s financial state has been, this community has really pulled together to make the situation better. Sure, there are the scammers – turning up and pretending to be insurance inspectors – and the looters who know that some houses no longer have doors that close properly – but on the whole it is now goodwill and generosity that overflows. It’s how caring everyone is, without being sentimental.
The floods were worse for some
It’s all very well as adults, we look at Christmas, and we feel tired of all the commercialism and the fakery, and the enforced present-buying – even if you’re not a Scrooge, it can get especially wearing. But children don’t see it like that.
Christmas is the most special time of year for most kids, and the idea that Christmas has been cancelled by a storm, is incredibly bad luck and really disastrous for them. So many families were washed out of their homes, and it has been a truly horrible time for them.
First world problems, maybe, but looking at things in perspective isn’t always about having a wider view; sometimes it’s necessary to empathise with those who were recently up to their ears in water and floating possessions.
So, thank you
So, to those holiday home owners who popped up on the Appleby Flood Disaster facebook page – and in other places – thank you. Even those based in other areas were happy to offer their empty houses for nothing.
To the myriad hotels and pubs that have offered free use of their rooms and facilities over Christmas, thank you.
To those indivduals who have been happy to open up their homes to people in need, thank you.
To the estate agents that went the extra mile to ask the sellers of empty houses to rent them out temporarily, thank you.
To the food shops in Appleby and the volunteer caterers supplying free food from the market hall to the townspeople, thank you.
To the companies that have sent relevant supplies and some really basic stuff – things that you could normally get in the supermarket if it hadn’t been flooded out, thank you.
To all the individuals who have made up boxes of supplies, sent clothing and bedding, and who have allocated special funding to the Flood Appeal, thank you.
And thanks also to those people from other towns across the country, for sending money, supplies, and helping hands to assist.
Charities, Kumon Y’all, OneNationUK and Blackburn’s Food for Thought get a special mention for travelling all the way over from Batley and Leeds, West Yorkshire, and Blackburn, Lancashire to make a difference to our county now and in the near future.
There have been literally thousands of offers of help, supplies, and food, too many to list in any circumstance, and every single genuine offer has been truly appreciated by someone.
As a Cumbrian, I’m proud to be associated with these people. There’s no end of community spirit when it really matters.