Age UK Berkshire's flood updates and advice
Published on 13 February 2014 12:30 PM
We've all seen the terrible flooding across Berkshire, and other parts of the UK. We caught up with Mike Allen, Chief Executive of Age UK Berkshire, to find out the current situation:
Advice for people experiencing flooding:
- What to do during a flood (Environment Agency website)
- Get help during a flood (Environment Agency website)
- Flood warnings (Environment Agency website)
- Advice on flooding on Public Health England website
What has Age UK Berkshire been doing to help during the recent flooding crisis?
We're very aware of all the difficulties the recent flooding is causing people living in Berkshire. We're not set up to provide direct support in relation to flooding, and are not putting our staff and volunteers into heavily flooded areas as this can be very dangerous. We're talking to the emergency services, and are leaving the crisis relief work to the trained professionals in the army, fire service and police force.
However, we are continuing to provide the services to older people we normally run, such as befriending, handyperson services, and free information and advice.
'Home from hospital'
For example, Age UK Berkshire provide a ‘home from hospital' service across the county, which helps older people get back to normal life at home after being discharged from hospital. We recently assisted an older man on the western side of the county. His home is a little flooded, but emergency services have judged him to be safe in his home.
In the winter months, we provide small grants (around £100-200) to older people to help with heating costs, based on need. Given the current crisis, we've decided to expand the eligibility criteria of this programme so older people affected by flooding can receive grants to help with cleaning or furniture, for example. We're advising people to talk to their insurance companies first as we don't have a lot of money to distribute, but we'll help where we can.
High volume of calls
I'm sitting in our Information and Advice team today. We've received a higher volume of calls to our Information and Advice line. We're referring people to relevant emergency and support services in their areas.
I've been trying to talk to local Age Concerns who've been worst hit - for example, in Wraysbury and Windsor. These Age Concerns are very small, and I know they're suffering and their customers are suffering too. I haven't been able to make contact with Age Concern Wraysbury yet, but I suspect they have other priorities at this difficult time.
I've spoken to the flood team in Wraysbury which is being run by local volunteers. They've told me they have food and accommodation, and they're working with sheltered housing down there. The pharmacy is able to give out medicine too.
Have you received more offers of support from the public?
We've been extremely pleased by the number of calls and emails we've received from members of the public wanting to help older people. However, our advice is not to try to travel in to the worst flooded areas as this can be dangerous, is best left to the emergency services, and extra cars can clog up the roads and make matters worse.
Instead we've been advising people to check on their neighbours. For example, have you checked up on Mrs Smith across the street you haven't spoken to for a month to check she's OK? Does she need help with shopping or other practical tasks?
Focusing on long-term solutions
At Age UK Berkshire we're currently focusing on the longer term - what older people in the affected areas will need in 2 weeks, or 2 months time. There's currently a massive outburst of community spirit out there, and we working to translate that into something longer term that makes a real difference for older people living in Berkshire.
If you're able to volunteer some of your time and skills to help older people over a longer or regular period of time, we're always looking for people to visit older people who are lonely and isolated, and to help with sporting activities or computer sessions.
What advice would you give to older people or their friends and relatives, who are affected by flooding or worried about flooding?
Get in touch with neighbours. Don't venture out into any depth of water as it's probably polluted. If your home is getting damp or wet, check you can move upstairs, and if you are in any way concerned, call your local authority or emergency services. You can also call Age UK who will be able to advise on support that's available in your local area.
There's now help available in all villages in Berkshire, and if you can access the internet, there are really good facebook pages that have been set up for the key flooded areas. Just type in your location and facebook into a search engine and you should be able to find them.
Windsor floods will get worse as from tomorrow as water comes downstream, and more rain is forecast for the weekend. So we're all bracing ourselves.