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Prepared for the worst

24 June 2014

With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, the risk of flooding is a problem faced by many communities. Charles Richards, co-founder and treasurer of the Cornwall Community Flood Forum, explains how they’ve used Lottery funding to mitigate its impact.


Flooding is a problem that can have a profound and lasting impact on people, relationships, households, communities, businesses and local economies. All too often it presents a risk to life.

We applied for an Awards for All grant of £9,750 to help us provide support to communities in Cornwall at risk of flooding.

The focus of our bid was to establish a network of trained and equipped community volunteers who would be ideally placed to support both their community and the Emergency Services before, during and after an incident. The funding was used to develop a training package for volunteers, provide them with high visibility waterproof clothing and other equipment, set up two websites as well as produce a handbook providing flood guidance which we delivered to 7,600 properties at risk of flooding.

In developing and delivering the training package we were delighted to receive a huge amount of support from the Environment Agency, Cornwall Council, Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. The project grew over time and due to the level of support we received we were able to extend the training beyond Cornwall to include communities in Devon and Somerset.

Cornwall Community Flood Forum group at Lostwithiel's medieval bridge over the River Fowey

Cornwall Community Flood Forum group at Lostwithiel’s medieval bridge over the River Fowey

The impact of our Awards for All grant goes beyond just funding. Having Big Lottery support has raised the profile of our project and given it credibility. It helped us to secure additional private funding, and I am sure it played a significant part in us getting £238,000 through Defra’s Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder Fund.

In 2013 we were invited by the Cabinet Office, Defra and DCLG to present our project as a case study at their national Community Resilience and Climate Change workshops. We are now working on a Reaching Communities bid to extend what we have done and help support other areas of the country in becoming better prepared, including some of those affected by storms and widespread flooding last winter.

Our grant has been the catalyst that helped our project grow to a scale and scope we could not possibly have imagined at the start.

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