Make or break time for charity

Date: Tuesday 4th April 2017

IT’S make or break time for a charity that was formed as a result of the public’s determination to support the thousands of victims of the dreadful flooding that hit Cumbria 15 months ago — but which is now in the midst of its own funding crisis.

The Penrith-based Community Emergency Response Team (CERT UK) started life as Eden Flood Volunteers when a group of volunteers eager to help banded together to distribute essential supplies donated by local people in the immediate aftermath of Storm Desmond.

It has become much more than that, but it has also been a victim of its own success. While the charity has provided valuable assistance to more than 20,000 homeowners and businesses, its annual running costs have reached around £218,000 and it has six salaried full and part-time members of staff.

That is because its remit has widened to cover people caught up in other emergencies and provide help to the needy in other circumstances, such as vulnerable and elderly people discharged from hospital and even victims of domestic violence.

As the charity’s vital funding stream is coming to an end, it is appealing to the community it has itself supported so admirably to throw it a financial lifeline.

Without an injection of around £25,000, there is a chance that CERT UK will not last beyond the end of the month. The response from members of the public and the business community will indicate whether there is still a place for CERT UK or whether its moment has passed.

Whatever happens, its founder, Kerryanne Wilde, and her team can look back with great pride on what the charity has achieved since those devastating storms struck and threw thousands of households across the county into such despair.