‘Encouragement to our Community’

Reflection Since Storm Desmond 5th December 2015.

NNothing prepared us for the weekend that Storm Desmond hit Kendal. Only 3 weeks prior to Storm Desmond hitting, Minister Rev Wendy Thornton, her husband Duncan and Community Worker, Jonny Gios all sat nervously in the town hall waiting for the expected flooding. Nothing came of it.

‘Desmond’ hit our community with such force and surprise. We were mobilised due to a EA warning about Stockbeck being at severe warning. The waters rose very quickly and Jonny who was first on scene quickly tried to mobilise the community and church members to help those residents who needed help. As we used the church as a reception centre we quickly discovered we were about to be flooded ourselves. Many people who helped that night at the church discovered that their homes or cars had subsequently been caught in flooding.

The whole ordeal was very surreal and stressful – we’d not done this before! But as Jonny realised that the church was covered and would be ok we centred our focus on our community. Our energies have been focused on our community for the last 10 years, but this was in a different league. Both Wendy and Jonny set about gathering volunteers and mobilising them into action in the worst affected ward in Cumbria to be affected by flooding.

[Jonny, Wendy, Dave, Laura, not in picture Dorothy, Martin]

During this year we have played our part as other churches have in the area to work with their communities and to help the authorities and residents as much as possible. Soon after we went door knocking and helped people with hundreds of volunteers to be an assistance.

We led various community recovery initiatives to help our community; ‘Rebuilding our Communities day’ where we visited 900 homes in March. ‘Street Party’ to not only celebrate the Queen’s birthday but also to welcome residents back and encourage those not back. We also held Give a day Sandylands’ a project to distribute 250 pots of joy (pot full of flowers and bulbs) make over 8 gardens, and paint the exterior of 1 house.  Lastly we really wanted to bring lots of people together who had helped with the recovery effort to say a massive thank you, which we did at the Castle Green Hotel in September. Jonny has constantly said ‘ it’s a marathon and not a sprint’ – it’s been a hard slog but one that has been essential to keep our community together. Sandylands Methodist Church hopefully brought some encouragement to the residents of the area despite being flooded itself. The church couldn’t have done this without its church & community volunteers giving huge amounts of energy to the recovery process.

Watch our video of the journey we made together as a team!