Industry rallies behind flood victims

Although homes and businesses have felt the power of nature from Storm Desmond in the north of England, the extreme weather has not dampened the community spirit. 

As a result of the damage caused by the storm, arranged Christmas events were forced into cancellation. Among those were Marple’s Christmas Cracker and Hazel Grove’s Christmas markets, both located in Stockport.

D&S White Butchers was aiming to cater at the Christmas Cracker event by supplying turkey butties, hot beef butties and hot pork butties. However, 20 minutes after collecting the bread rolls, it was revealed that the event had been cancelled.

“So, as we didn’t have any freezer space for the muffins, we decided to cut three turkey breast fillets and we took them down to Wellspring, which is a charity in Stockport for homeless people,” Andrew Sweet, manager at D&S White Butchers, told Meat Trades Journal.

Because the meat is cooked on the day, none of the produce planned for the Christmas Cracker event went to waste.

“We cut the turkey first thing on Saturday morning and took it down to them and they just sorted everything from there.”

However, this wasn’t the only gift the thankful charity received. “They were overwhelmed, but it wasn’t just that,” added Sweet. “About four miles away at Hazel Grove there’s a place called KC Catering, which donated half a pig, because their event got cancelled as well.”

In addition to the high street businesses damaged by the storm, farmers across northern England and Scotland have been left worse for wear.

In an effort to support victims, the Prince’s Countryside Fund has announced it will be releasing £40,000 from its emergency fund. The organisation will work alongside The Prince’s Business Emergency
Resilience Group (BERG) to deliver aid to those affected by the storm.

In total, £30,000 will be donated to fund the Farming Help Charities while £10,000 will go towards the Cumbria Community Foundation.

“The full impact of the floods has yet to be realised, but many farms have lost livestock drowned in the flood waters, or been affected by landslips, while feed and equipment has been lost,” said Claire Saunders, director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund. “The repairs to bridges, roads and dry stone walls will be an enormous job.

“This is a catastrophic blow to rural businesses, which are already hard-pressed. Many will be relying on Christmas trade to turn a profit and we need to act swiftly to help them get back on track. We’re urging farms and rural businesses in trouble to ask for help and contact the Farming Help charities and the Cumbria Community Foundation for advice and assistance.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has encouraged victims to contact them for funding. Each year, the organisation gives out around £2m to those in the farming industry in need of financial aid.

“Getting people back on their feet will be a long and difficult process and many in the farming industry, already pushed to the brink by other pressures, will not know who to turn to,” said RABI chief executive Paul Burrows.

“RABI is ready to support farmers who meet our criteria and need help immediately. We will also be working with other organisations and charities to help those in Cumbria and elsewhere recover from this disaster.”

Furthermore, Farming Minister George Eustice confirmed that £20,000 will be available to farmers across Cumbria and North Lancashire who have been affected by the flooding. The payments are part of a £40m Community Recovery Scheme for people in flood-hit areas.

Eustice commented: “We understand flooding can have serious consequences for farmers and we want to provide practical support to those affected by last weekend’s unprecedented rainfall in Cumbria and North Lancashire.

“The new Farming Recovery Fund will help to cover farmers’ short-term uninsured recovery costs, such as repairing damaged soils, tracks and flood channels. We will pay out on all eligible applications and we hope it will offer some relief at this challenging time.”

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) welcomed the Recovery Fund, but said it was vital that funding reached farmers in the affected areas.

“We are still assessing the full extent of the damage across the area, but it has become clear to us that action is needed across a wide area of northern England,” said NFU deputy president Minette Batters.

“The fund, announced quickly, will help those who have been badly affected by the recent floods.”

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