Case Studies

The floods have affected people in different ways. Here are a few examples of people who have been supported from the Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal and what they had to say when they received a grant:



Pensioner Anne Reay from Carlisle has been out of her Warwick Road home since it was deluged by water in December 2015.

The 71-year-old is living in temporary accommodation and her three grandsons, who live with her part-time, have to sleep on camp beds and mattresses on the floor because space in her temporary lodgings is so limited.

Anne Reay outside her Warwick Road home in Carlisle. (Photo courtesy of Stuart Walker)

Mrs Reay said: “My house was beautiful before the floods, it’s not so beautiful now. We have been tested to the limit.

“When we knew the floods were starting I took enough food upstairs from the fridge freezer, I took my husband’s ashes and some of our gadgets, iPads and phones with us.

“We were there until Tuesday afternoon. There was no electric, no lights and we were all in the bedroom together. All we could hear was a river below us, with crickets and frogs and insects. It was as if you were walking next to a river.

“It’s been horrendous. My grandsons stay with me in this tiny house and my daughter is battling some serious health problems at the age of 42. But I’ve had an enormous amount of help from organisations such as Cumbria Community Foundation.”


Sue Davis and her husband Colin from Keswick didn’t have insurance because their rented home had previously been flooded. Now they have to start rebuilding a home for their two sons from scratch.

Mrs Davis, a part-time taxi operator, said: “When we moved in we were told by the insurance company either they wouldn’t cover us or there was a premium that was something ridiculous like £200 a month to cover us for flooding. We simply couldn’t afford it.”

The family received a grant in December from the Flood Recovery Appeal, which was spent in the post-Christmas sales on white goods and other kitchen items.

Colin, Olly and Sue Davis
The Davis family from Keswick

“The only things we’d managed to get upstairs were a few trinkets, photographs and a couch. We’d only bought it two weeks earlier. We lost all the Christmas presents” said Mrs Davis, “I’m quite a thrifty shopper so I’ve been able to get us almost a new kitchen from the grant we’ve been given. I’ve spent it on white goods like a fridge freezer, washing machine, kettle, microwave, toaster, cutlery and crockery.

“It has been absolutely amazing. I got an application form at the Moot Hall after the flooding and I got the money less than two weeks later. It was a great start.”

The family also received a second grant in March 2016 towards furniture and flooring.


When the River Greta burst its banks in Keswick during Storm Desmond, Keith Watson had to act quickly. The 33-year-old, who uses a wheelchair, only had time to pack an overnight bag.

Keith Watson outside his flat in Keswick
Keith Watson outside his flat in Keswick

Keith, who lives in Riverside Court, was unable to return to his home for three days but when he did he was shocked by the scale of the damage. This was made worse by the fact he was uninsured. He had lost everything apart from what was in the overnight bag.

If Keith had not been evacuated from his flat he would have drowned as the water level in his home rose above where he would be sat in his wheelchair.

Keith said: “I have lost all of my furniture and almost all of my belongings. I got out with just a bag containing a change of clothes and my phone. I’m really grateful to have been given the money because I haven’t really got anything left.”


Chris Ansell from Kendal was flooded on 5th December 2015. It was the first time this property has flooded in eighty years. He received financial support from the Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal to help rebuild his home.


Jackie cares for her husband Phil, who suffers with ME and Fibromyalgia and for their daughter Sadie, who has Autism and ADHD. In December 2015 their Cockermouth home flooded for the third time.

“On behalf of myself and my family I wish to thank you all at Cumbria Foundation for your financial help. This is our third time flooded in ten years. This time however we were priced out of the insurance due to our annual premium jumping from £300 per year to nearly £3000 for contents only. This phenomenal amount will be a massive, massive help in getting us back in our home and for that reason alone we will be forever in your debt. I seriously cannot put into words how truly grateful we all are. To receive this amount of help is incredible and will make the transition of moving back home so much easier. I would be grateful if you could pass our thanks on to all your colleagues who have helped make this all possible. Thank you so, so much.”


Pensioners Mr and Mrs Harrison from Kendal were fully insured and the insurance has paid for temporary rental accommodation. However there have been expenses adding up all the while they are in the temporary accommodation, “things that you only realise you lost when you go to find them.”

“Thank you so much for your generosity following our application for possible help. When I told my wife she just sat down and cried and said “well at last someone cares”. It has moved us both to think that help has come our way. The grant will be used to pay for the arthritic mattress we had to buy for my wife’s back and the rest will go towards the little home treats you miss when you have to live in temporary accommodation. Perhaps a teapot or a hot water bottle will be on the shopping list. Once again thank you so much for your generosity and be assured it has been well appreciated.”


82 year old Kathleen lives in Carlisle and her home was flooded for the second time. The Foundation was able to offer some financial assistance back in 2005, although her husband died during the recovery from these floods.

Kathleen is living with her daughter while her house is restored. She was needing help to pay for the installation of chimney linings to allow the gas fire to be fitted as the insurer would not cover this.

Her daughter Kathryn said: “On behalf of my mum, may we thank you very much for the grant of £1,100. This is a big relief to my mum, knowing she can now pay for the chimney linings to re-instate her gas fire. My mum is very appreciative of this help and hopefully will be able to move back home in the near future. Thank you again for the support given to mum and to all other flood victims.”


Joy from Pooley Bridge is a single parent with two daughters aged 12 and 7. The family has been left devastated after the floods. As well as furniture and utilities, the floods destroyed her daughter’s birthday and Christmas presents.

“I’ve been feeling so stressed out that it’s hard to express the sense of relief I feel knowing that we are going to receive further help. I felt I was coping okay, but it’s very hard living in temporary accommodation and it’s taking its toll on the whole family, and all the pets. There are many things, sentimental things that cannot be replaced and that’s a great sadness, but there’s so much that does need replacing and sorting out and it sometimes feels over-whelming. The stress it has placed on us all and the on-going problems with things such as our cramped, temporary accommodation and school transport due to Pooley Bridge collapsing, is huge. The problems are further compounded by all the roadworks and repairs which I suspect are due to the damage caused by the storms and all the administrative calls and tasks ( direct debits, bills etc…) that have been necessary…feels like a full-time job in itself sometimes. I’m saying all of this when really all I want to say is a heartfelt ‘Thank you’. Thank you to everyone involved in supporting and helping us.”

Community Recovery:

Above Derwent Flood Action Group

Braithwaite, near Keswick, was devastated by the December floods. The village was divided in two for nearly three weeks after a bridge was damaged and over 40 of the 270 properties flooded. In April the Above Derwent Flood Action Group was awarded a grant of £7,330 to fit out a box trailer with emergency equipment, in order to ensure that the community is prepared for any future flood events. The group has already recruited volunteer flood wardens, developed their community emergency plan and have used the trailer to promote their work to the wider community.

Brian Rutland, Chair of the group, said: “During the flooding in December 2015 it quickly became apparent that to function efficiently as a flood group we would need to equip our volunteers with waterproof clothing, radios, torches, etc. We compiled a list of equipment and applied to the Cumbria Community Foundation for funding, we were delighted and most grateful to receive the funding and along with another donation we were able to purchase all the equipment and a box trailer, which is kept in a secure store.”

“Due to the number of holiday homes in our village, fundraising is very difficult and therefore without the support of the Flood Fund, groups like ourselves would not be able to function at the level we do and also keep a motivated membership. Besides the actual funding, CCF’s staff have been there for us with advice and encouragement during some very difficult times, all of which we greatly appreciate.”


Citizens Advice Carlisle & Eden

Citizens Advice in Carlisle and Eden was awarded a grant of £26,095 to provide a flood advice project supporting people who have been affected by the floods.

Citizens Advice used the funding to employ a Flood Advice Worker who the public can access through the Citizens Advice offices or at flood forums held across the Carlisle and Eden area. The Flood Advice Worker provides training and support to volunteers on how to deliver advice to people affected by the floods in Carlisle and Eden districts.

Issues that Citizens Advice deal with include helping people access funding, providing advice on debt issues and assisting with legal disputes.

Andy Auld, CEO of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, said: “The grant has enabled us to alleviate some of the worries and concerns of people affected by the floods in Carlisle and Eden districts.”

“Some have been hit by the floods for the second time in 10 years and have had many of their possessions destroyed. Some have excesses on their insurance to pay and all will have lengthy spells away from their homes and communities.”

“Many people feel angry and let down by statutory agencies as well as private companies. We are able to help and support these individuals to navigate their way through often complex processes to obtain redress.”


Parish Hall, Crosby on Eden

A five year refurbishment programme had just been completed when Crosby on Eden Parish Hall flooded on the 5thDecember 2015. The Parish Hall Committee were awarded a grant of £5,000 to repair the floor beneath the stage, after additional damage was uncovered.

Lesley Connolly, Chair of the Parish Hall Committee said “The insurance company would not cover the whole stage area, about a sixth of the main hall floor. As the hall was out of action, basically a building site, there was no way we could raise funds. At that point, help from Cumbria Community Foundation in the form of a grant, allowed us to continue to strip out and rebuild. Working with the project manager, appointed by the insurance company, we decided that the best way forward was to take out the whole stage, rebuild with the main floor covering the whole hall and then buy a collapsible stage system that would give us flexibility. We have made new stage curtains to cover the floor length stage opening and the stage area is now a real feature of the hall.

 “Our grant from Cumbria Community Foundation was a life saver. We wouldn’t have been able to continue with the rebuild without it. The hall is now complete and back in community use.”


The Kendal Lads & Girls Club

Damaged outside play area

The Kendal Lads & Girls Club was flooded when the River Kent broke its banks during the December 2015 flooding.  The river washed away the outside play area and part of the skate park, it also filled the cellar and ground floor level of the building. The committee were awarded a grant of £8,402.

Liz Cornford, Committee Member said: “The insurance company was very helpful and proactive in the clean-up period, but we were left wondering how to fund repairs for those parts not covered by insurance and how to support young people while the club and skate park were out of action.

The staff at Cumbria Community Foundation were very helpful in supporting us to make an application for funding support repairs to the skate park and outside play area, along with support towards a new sports hall floor and lastly some support for Kendal Lads & Girls Club to put on activities and trips for young people. This funding enabled the club to be fully open again by June 2016 and a full programme of summer activities took place to celebrate. The continued support of Cumbria Community Foundation is very much appreciated and has led to the ongoing success of Kendal Lads & Girls Club.”


Community Support Projects:

The Bridge Café, Cockermouth

Following Storm Desmond, Kings Church Cockermouth established The Bridge Café on the north side of Cockermouth – an area cut off from the town centre by two bridge closures. A grant award of £10,000 enabled Kings Church to offer local residents simple meals and importantly a space to share their experiences. Over 12 months on from the floods The Bridge Café still opens twice a week to support the local community.

“Kings Church Cockermouth is grateful for the financial support Cumbria Community Foundation gave us for the Bridge Café. Without their direct financial help, we could not have run the Bridge Cafe as well, for as long, or free to the end user. We have had over 6000 unique visits, supported over 150 flood affected individuals, and provided employment for a flood affected person. The affected community has been able to use the Bridge Café to give mutual emotional and physical support, and give them a community ‘centre’ to help them return to a normal life. Thank you Cumbria Community Foundation.” Paul Mogford, Operations Director at Kings Church Cockermouth.


The Encouragement Cabin, Sandylands Methodist Church, Kendal

Sandylands Methodist Church through the establishment of The Encouragement Cabin provided vital support to hundreds of flooded families in Kendal. A grant award of £22,950 enabled the Church to employ relief workers to help the community recovery process.

“Sandylands Church not only supported the 900 homes in the immediate area of the church, but also many other people who came to church in the early aftermath of Storm Desmond. Cumbria Community Foundation have provided much needed lifeline to many residents, without such a fund the residents would not be where they are today. The fund has provided much needed assistance at the greatest time of need. Sandylands Church and other members of the flood recovery group promoted the fund to help residents in South Lakeland.”

“Cumbria Community Foundation didn’t only just help support our community. As we ourselves were flooded out we needed a based, hence the encouragement cabin was born. With limited resources at the time we applied to Cumbria Community Foundation for a grant for admin support and two other part time relief workers as the need was great and the capacity of one full time community worker & part time minister was limited with the amount of work within recovery. Having a team of five enabled us to ‘break the back’ of the recovery and offer considerable help and punch above our weight. This was made possible only through the help of the Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Fund.” Jonny Gios, Community Worker, Sandylands Methodist Church.