Time running out for floods charity

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Kerryanne Wilde
Kerryanne Wilde

Time is running out for a charity that was a vital lifeline to thousands whose lives were devastated by Storm Desmond.

A Virgin MoneyGiving Page has so far only raised £50 of the £20,000 needed for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to survive beyond the end of this month.

Organisers are hoping for a financial "lifeline" but say if funding can't be found they will cease to exist by Friday, April 28.

"If a fairy godmother doesn't arrive, we will have to close our doors," said Kerryanne Wilde, founder and chief executive. "We will close next Friday if no funds are found."

A petition set up in a bid to save the charity is gathering pace with more than 1,000 signatures, but volunteers say they are in serious danger of closing as their current funding stream dries up.

CERT played a key role in helping the victims of the floods of December 2015 get back on their feet by providing donations of furniture, clothes and food to those most in need.

But 14 months later, Kerryanne said they are ‘running on a shoestring’ – and she has had to make paid staff redundant.

The organisation, which was originally established as Eden Flood Volunteers, is relying on a core 15 volunteer workers to keep going.

“Really we need to raise £200,000 and that should keep us going for another year.

“I’ve put about £10,000 of my own money into CERT but I just can’t afford to put any more in.”

The charity has more than 650 flood-affected clients on its books.

“We have run on a shoe-string the past 17 months with only £153,000 in funding and donations spent to date,” said Kerryanne.

“This only goes to show that we are extremely frugal with all funding and use every penny to its best advantage.

“Overheads are as low as we can possibly make these, with limited paid staff, relying on volunteers to make the organisation run.

“We are hoping people will dig deep.

“We have also set up a petition on the website 38degrees, which so far has 1,085 signatures.”

CERT was originally based at the Old Fire Station in Penrith.

It currently operates from a former civil engineering lab at the town’s Skirsgill Depot, which it has been leasing rent-free from Cumbria County Council.

“It costs up to £10,000 per month to run the charity covering the hire of our van, utilities and wages for two full-time warehouse staff and two part-time admin staff,” said Kerryanne.

“We just want to try and get the message out there,” Kerryanne said. “Hopefully people will see the position we’re in and try to help.”

Kerryanne is standing in the forthcoming Cumbria County Council elections for Ukip in the Denton Holme ward, along with Conservative Syed Ali, the Green Party’s Neil Boothman and Labour’s Hugh McDevitt.

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