Whalley & District Lions Club – Helping flooded communities

0 Posted by - January 26, 2016 - Floods

Whalley & Lions District Lion Members and helpers: [Left to Right] Lion Mags Twist, Kellie Hughes [Flood relief coordinating volunteer], Caz Morton [Accrington Lions President], Gillian Darbyshire [Whalley Lions President] & Neil Martin [Whalley Lions 1st Vice President]

Whalley, January 26th, 2016:

A month after the Boxing Day Floods the Whalley & District Lions are still actively supporting the Ribble Valley Flood victims

Severe flooding, gale-force winds, and heavy rainfall accompanied Christmas and New Year among many local communities.  In response Whalley & District Lions Club has set up a Community Disaster Fund to support the relief efforts.

Volunteer members of Whalley & District Lions Clubs have been working tirelessly in Whalley and surrounding villages in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley, affected by the unprecedented weather conditions. Even a month after the floods have hit the club is busy supporting individuals, families and businesses in the recovery process following the initial floods and clean up operation.

“Wherever disasters happen in the world, Lions Clubs are on hand to offer help immediately and in the longer term” explains Simon Moss, Lions Clubs International: British Isles and Ireland chairman.

“Right now, our own local communities need practical assistance, and Lions Clubs have responded to help those who are struggling to cope.”

Nigel Evans MP for the Ribble Valley participated in the flood discussions in Parliament on 6 January 2016 said:

“A four-minute limit will not allow us to name all the people we would love to mention and thank publicly, so we will have to do it in another way. Let me just mention Gillian Darbyshire of the Whalley Lions and her entire team, who have given up 10 days of their Christmas holidays to man the emergency centre in Whalley. They were absolutely superb.”

Now a month later the Lion Club members and their strong team of volunteers are still supporting their community. Many of the 250 households affected have had support by the team with clearing the homes after the initial aftermath of the floods.

As the Lions team members managed over 1000 volunteers within the first two weeks of the crisis, they also liaised closely with the Ribble Borough Council’s Emergency Response Team, headed by the Chief Executive of the Council Marshal Scott. The Lions also worked with Flood Crisis Volunteer Coordinator, Katei Blezard who had just returned to her home town of Clitheroe before Christmas, after supporting Cumbria for 3 weeks following their floods.

This team managed to safe guard the residents and businesses in Whalley, Billington and Read. During this time most people had been displaced from their homes and seeking emergency accommodation. Homes and businesses where cleaned by the volunteers of flood damaged furnishing, fixtures and fittings. The club also coordinated efforts between other emergency aid agencies, charities and businesses to get the required cleaning equipment, heaters, dehumidifiers, clothing, bedding and food to keep the community safe, and to assist with the clean up. It is estimated over a million pounds worth of aid passed through of the doors of the crisis relief centre (Whalley Village Hall) organised by the Lions Club, within the 1st 2 weeks of of the relief effort.

A large number of residents have been unable to claim insurance on their properties and possession due to lack of cover for flooding or very high levels of excess demanded from their insurances. The Lions Club and flood recovery volunteers have been instrumental in assuring residents have longer term temporary accommodation and support while repair and restoration of the damaged properties are underway. Many people are finding that they have been displaced from their homes on average between 3 to 9 months with some facing up to 12 months before they can return to their homes. Working with the borough’s housing team, local estate agents, landlords and housing associations, the Lions have guided those in need of shelter to the right people who have helped.

Many donations both financial and through goods donated, have been received. Since the closure of the crisis centre in the Village Hall, the Lions have secured the short term use of a temporary store, known as the stables, which houses donated items from the general public and businesses. This centre has been open daily for those effected by the floods to seek donated items, to borrow equipment and to meet the volunteers who have helped in the last month. Items donated to the residents include second hand furniture, white goods, cleaning equipment, children’s toys, blankets, clothing, toiletries and food. Lots of donations have found new and temporary homes, while people await for insurance claims to be settled and works to be underway and completed on their homes.

Since the Boxing Day Floods hit the community, Whalley & District Lions have set up a flood recovery fund, raising money through donations and events being held locally, while seeking grants and match funding from the government to help the funds grow. At present the funds are over £15,000. This money is being used to support to the most vulnerable in the community, such as the elderly, families with young children, and those not covered by insurance, Many of these people have lost the essential items needed to live safely and comfortably. Grants of up to £500 are being awarded to those who meet these criteria. This means only a limited number of people can be helped, so fundraising will continue throughout 2016 to help those most seriously affected. As the Whalley & District Lion Club and Lions International are funded by its members through membership fees, 100% of the monies raised for the flood relief is used to support those affected in the floods.

Also many other agencies are offering grants and support. To make the process easier the Whalley & District Lions are assisting residents in filling in and completing their grant forms. By doing this, it is assured the correct information is being submitted to the agencies. This  assures  a quicker turnaround on grants and support awarded. This has been a critical level of support as those affected are finding it hard to deal with the stress of the situation as well as dealing with filling in multiple forms. This process set up by the Lions makes sure those in most critical need are helped as soon as it is possible.

The effort and work put in by the Lions members in Whalley and the local district, has been something that has been gratefully received by the communities of Whalley, Billington and Read. Without this support, the community may not been safeguarded to the level it has been. The effect the flooding had caused in Cumbria in December 2015 had lead to families being split-up, children taken into care and fatalities following the floods by suicide or through ill health. It can be said 100% of all the 1500 Ribble Valley Flood victims are known to be okay, safeguarded and be-friended by Lions Members or neighbouring volunteers. As a newly formed club, within in first twelve months of existence, and only as an independent charted club in October 2015, the efforts of bringing the community together during its hardest experience at Christmas and New Year is unsurpassed.

“I am really proud of all our community who have come together to care for each other in our time of need. So many people have made a huge difference by volunteering, donating and in every way possible to make this more bearable for our residents.”

Explains the Whalley & Lions Club President Gillian Darbyshire. she also says:

“The village is trying to get back to normal as soon as it can. Without the dedication of the Lions and its community who turned out in their hundreds to support those affected, we could be witnessing a harder story one month on from the floods. We are looking to restore the award winning village back to its finer self. This is by helping those displaced to return back to their homes as soon as possible, and help the village repair the damage caused by the flood. Thank you to everyone who has played a part in this recovery process.”

The support is echoed by Neil Martin Interim Chair of the Chamber of Trade, who is also a Lions Member and Flood Crisis and Recovery Coordinating Volunteer:

“We have supported businesses get back to trade as soon as we possibly have. The business community reflects the true independent spirit of the village, and this gives Whalley its truly charming and welcoming spirit found by local and visitors alike. Events are being planned in the coming weeks and months to keep the vibrancy of the area going. We wish to see the lifeblood of the community return, and peoples lives get back to normal during what has been a traumatising time.”

If you are looking to support the Whalley & District Lions, through joining the club, or by supporting the flood victims by donations of money or goods, please contact the Whalley  & District Lions Club via email: whalleylions@gmail.com or by telephone 0845 388 1031.


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