As most of you know, during the crazy heavy wet weather the U.K has faced this festive season, there has been extreme flooding across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire. I live in York which sees annual flooding from the River Ouse but it was the additional flooding of the Ouse’s main sister river, the River Foss, which caused extra damage to so many residents and businesses.
Throughout all the chaos it’s been so touching to see the amazing show of community spirit and unity in the city, as well as hearing other stories from across the North which have really warmed my heart and clawed some respect back for humankind. Because let’s be honest, there’s a lot going on in the world right now that’s pretty shitty.
It’s reminded me we can be more community spirited at all times and not just during a crisis.
Here’s a few examples of some beautiful humans and how they’ve been helping make a difference.
York (North Yorkshire):
Archbishop Holgate’s School became a respite centre for many of the families who had to flee their homes. There were camp beds and blankets provided at the school which was also used as a base for many of the mountain rescue services who were called in from elsewhere. The most lovely thing was there was so much generosity shown through donations of food and drink for the homeless, there was simply too many donations to make use of. Pretty brilliant work.
A local nursery which lost vast amounts owing to the water has been inundated with donation toys and books.
At the “sand bag centre” York residents were volunteering to fill sand bags and load them onto trucks, working alongside the army and rescue services. Note – David Dickwad wasn’t seen mucking in with sandbags on his recent visit to see how we were all doing.
Everywhere I went I could see strangers talking and laughing with each other and since the water levels have gone down , people have been helping retailers and home owners empty damaged furniture and carpets into skips.
Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd (West Yorkshire)
One resident of Hebden Bridge has hit out against certain people who have been condemning British foreign aid in the wake of the floods, suggesting that it should be spent in the UK instead. He warns against xenophobia and says that maybe the cost of one Britain’s military missiles (costing around £1.1 Million each!) could be donated to the UK flood victims instead rather than depriving our international brothers and sisters.
A couple of clubs of burley bikers from Bradford volunteered to help the West Yorkshire community and have been patrolling the streets of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd throughout the night to help prevent the looting of abandoned homes and shops. Working alongside the police they have not been violent, simply a “physical presence” on the streets and helping elderly residents with their shopping. Amazing.
Five ways to use your community spirit where you live…
1. Help the elderly:Whether it’s helping people with their shopping, with crossing the road, putting their bins out or simply saying “hello”, “nice weather we’re having” it can make someone’s day, someone who may actually be quite lonely.
2. Say “hi” to people or smile at someone:It doesn’t mean that you have to stop and have a chat but a simple smile or hello can really make someone feel that they are in a community and not an unfriendly metropolis.
3. Volunteer: Whether you can afford to spare a day, a couple of evenings or just 2 hours see what volunteer projects are in effect where you live that you could get involved in. Check library and community centre notice boards and of course, the web.
4. Pick up Litter: No one says you have to be a litter warrior, armed with a bin bag and a grabber; but if you see some litter see if you can put the odd bit in a bin. The Welsh Wildlife Trust have instigated a project called “Improving Lives By Improving Places”; it is suggested that if people live in a cleaner and greener area then it can provide a greater level of self respect and local pride and, therefore, alter someone’s personal happiness.
5. See if there’s anything you can initiate: If you struggle to find time in your schedule to volunteer or you’re not able to find an appropriate group in your area, why not create your own event?
So, although this flooding arrived at a particularly bad time of year, over Christmas, maybe it arrived at the right time, if it had to happen? A time when Christmas spirit helped people be even more kind to each other. I like to think though, that whatever the time of year, us peeps in the UK can help our communities at all times and be a shining example of peace and friendship to the world.
Start small but think big. Happy New Year!
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