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25 January 2016
A community project close to home
In that strange no man’s land of time between Christmas and New Year, when social events with friends are a blur and there’s a constant drone of Home Alone in the background, it can be hard to think of anything other than what else to do with those turkey leftovers and whether the shop will take back the bright pink bunny jumper your Grannie bought you … but then in late December 2015 Mother Nature dramatically intervened.
The normally tame River Wharfe, running through the Yorkshire town of Tadcaster, burst its banks and rushed headlong to wreak havoc on local homes and businesses. In a matter of hours the bustling high street famous as the home of Sam Smith’s and John Smith’s Breweries was waist deep in water. Whole shops full of goods were lost and people were left bereft and shocked by what had happened.
It is times like these when disaster relief charities come into action. Charities such as Team Rubicon, which one member of our team felt compelled to support. On 27th December, our Senior Expedition Manager Georgia received a call to action; could she help form part of the clear up team in Tadcaster? Yes was the answer. Why not give up some time and energy and help a community struck by this terrible disaster? The turkey leftovers could (gladly) wait. So off she went, husband in tow, to see what she could do and how she could support the community. What she found was a town of amazing resilience and tremendous community spirit rallying together to help the most vulnerable and who were determined to get their lives back on track as quickly as possible.
Team Rubicon (TR) UK recruits, trains, equips, and deploys military veterans to aid in disaster response operations, but also works with what they call ‘kick ass civilians’ (like Georgia!). The charity was set up to “bridge the gap between disasters and large-scale aid, giving returning veterans a renewed sense of purpose, community, and identity post military service”. Georgia was introduced to the charity by one of her amazing Expedition Leaders Paul. Paul was also there; working hard as Head of Operations.
Tadcaster was soon awash with willing TR volunteers, getting hands on and helping oversee the amazing work done by the townspeople to give them a sense of direction and support. Small TR task groups were deployed to help those most in need, including a mother and young baby whose entire downstairs had been devastated by the raging waters, plus several elderly couples whose electricity and gas mains were under water in their basements. Pretty soon the high street stopped resembling a dumping ground as white goods, damaged stock, ruined food and endless amounts of carpet and flooring were taken away to the local tip.
Due to Georgia’s experience in logistics, she was given the responsibility of organising food and accommodation for all of the TR volunteers and another disaster relief charity they were working in partnership with, called Serve On (all in all about 25 people). This required lots of discussions and liaison with pertinent community members and a great deal of tact and gratitude to try and gain all of this for free (TR is entirely voluntary). Thankfully the team were given the run of a local hotel and the absolutely amazing Salvation Army came to the rescue and provided 3 meals a day for everyone – and even a home for the night on New Year’s Eve.
The one thing that Georgia took most from this was the truly mind blowing community spirit. Everyone gave their all and it was quite phenomenal to be a part of that. She knows that if she ever goes back to Tadcaster for a visit, she will without doubt be welcomed as part of the community, thanks to her part in the clean up operation. You can find out more about Team Rubicon here: //www.teamrubiconuk.org/about-us