Coronavirus kindness: Brockham flood volunteers join fight

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image copyrightBob Barlett
image captionOne branch of the charity does the heavy work while another team supports people in the village

Villagers who joined forces to help each other through severe floods six years ago are supporting people through the coronavirus pandemic.

Houses and roads were left underwater in Brockham, near Dorking, Surrey, after heavy rain and flooding from the River Mole in winter 2013-14.

At that point, the Brockham Emergency Response Team (Bert) was formed.

The charity is now working to ensure no-one struggles either from having coronavirus or from being isolated.

Bob Bartlett, an ex-Surrey Police chief superintendent and a former trustee of the charity, said help could range from financial aid, to walking dogs for a resident who was housebound.

Volunteers have already helped a cancer patient who came out of hospital to find he had to self-isolate with only one week's food supply at home.

image copyrightBob Bartlett
image captionHouses, roads and vehicles were left underwater during the floods

One of the current trustees, Craig Scott, said the charity operated with a few thousand pounds and raised funds mainly through donations.

Volunteers have worked to mitigate the flood risk in the village with projects including clearing drains and ditches, but have also brought peace of mind to people who see them working in their hi-vis jackets.

Trustees say a similar approach will help Brockham's 2,500 residents face the challenges of Covid-19.

Mr Scott said: "We're not only tackling the flooding, we're tackling the fear of flooding and that very much links to coronavirus.

"There are a lot of parallels. It's about food and medicine and fear of contagion and Bert is bringing some reassurance."

image copyrightBert
image captionThe campaign asks people if their neighbours have health concerns

The charity has already agreed to collect and deliver prescriptions from the pharmacy and is working with councils, shops and the surgery to keep residents connected with services they need.

Mr Bartlett believes the charity has become a model others can follow and said the village was "full of good, practical, common-sense people".

"The message is 'don't worry, don't panic, we are here'," he said.

"We will help you, you are not alone."

BBC Local Radio stations across England are helping to keep communities connected during the Coronavirus crisis.

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