Community spirit: Positive legacy from the flood

Steve Duncan from CFFC and the Watermark Fund is presented with pHure Gin bottle number 001, by co-creator Euan Noble, at Millars Bar, Brighouse
Steve Duncan from CFFC and the Watermark Fund is presented with pHure Gin bottle number 001, by co-creator Euan Noble, at Millars Bar, Brighouse

When the flood hit on Boxing Day 2015, we were all in shock. No one expected the devastation, destruction and long term effect it would have on our communities, even now, one year on.

But as well as this, no one expected the amazing community spirit that got our towns back on their feet and the generosity of people across the country who donated to the flood fund set up by the Community Foundation for Calderdale.

In total, the fund raised £3.4 million, which has been spent on everything from grants to individual houses and businesses, community support, flood resilience and much, much more.

What the Community Foundation have done in supporting so many affected by the flood has been impressive but if parts of Calderdale were to be flooded again so soon after the Boxing Day devastation, would people be as generous a second time?

Steve Duncan, CEO of the Community Foundation, said: “I was keen not to wait until the next flood to find out how generous people were likely to be, and working with Chris Sands, of the successful Totally Locally initiative, we have come up with a way that the community can look after itself and each other, by creating our own fund for future flooding.

“And almost everyone agrees, it’s not if the floods hit again, it’s when.”

Watermark is a brilliantly simple idea by Chris Sands.

Chris said: “Watermark is a simple, community-led scheme where businesses sell one product, and a part, or all, of the profits go into a fund that will be there in case of future flooding.

“Businesses don’t sign anything, everything is done on trust, and they can withdraw at any time. And it has been really successful.

“Products being sold under the Watermark banner include books, coffee, art, a burger, cycle equipment, flood prevention equipment, permeable paving stones, lights, beer and even a Watermark gin.”

Watermark has also been a great banner for organisations to put on an event to contribute to the flood fund. And there have been numerous sponsored walks, a fashion show, a mini festival, a tractor run and more.

So far, more than £250,000 has been raised for the Watermark Fund. An amazing feat.

If a flood happens, the money will be distributed amongst those affected by CFFC in exactly the same way they were last time.

Running alongside Watermark is FloodSave - a unique scheme to help businesses and individuals who can’t get flood insurance, due to insurers refusing to cover high risk properties.

FloodSave is a joint project between Watermark, Calderdale Credit Union and the Community Foundation for Calderdale.

For every pound saved, if you are flooded your money will be doubled at whatever value you have saved. So if you have saved £1,000 you will recieve £2,000 immediately. This goes up to a limit of £2,000.

Your money is safe with the credit union, and there is £500,000 put aside to match money in case of future flood. Savers can withdraw any amount or all their money at any time without penalty.

So Calderdale has two unique and successful schemes that are building flood resilience into our towns - Watermark and FloodSave.

Chris said: “We are literally ‘saving for a rainy day’.”

If you are a business, please get involved with Watermark, and help protect our communities and businesses against flooding for the future.

For more information, visit www.watermarkfund.org or www.cffc.co.uk.