Following storm Desmond, communities throughout Cumbria were encouraged to set up some kind of community-based emergency plan to assist people when difficulties or disasters occur.
These plans are not intended to replace the statutory agencies such as police, fire, and ambulance, but to provide temporary support until the appropriate professionals are able to help.
A small group of residents, with the support of the Parish council, worked for about a year on a scheme for Casterton, and studied the efforts of other communities and took advice from other organisations. The result has been named 'Casterton Neighbours', and aims to do broadly what a good neighbour would do to help in an emergency. This could be a 'weather event' such as flooding, ice or snow causing problems with travel, a failure of utilities such as gas or electricity meaning loss of heat or light, a fallen tree and so on.
There is a local telephone number which will connect to a volunteer, who will try to help contact the appropriate emergency service, or arrange more immediate local help. Elderly residents, single parent families and those suffering poor health or reduced mobility, are amongst those the service hopes to support. There are currently 10 volunteers who aim to provide 24/7 cover, and provide neighbourly local help. They will do their very best, but, as volunteers, there may be times and situations, which are beyond their resources. This service is not meant to fix everyday problems such as a broken TV or a lost cat, or the kind of things which a householder would turn to a local tradesman to put right, but the situation where there seems no immediate prospect of help, and where a competent knowledgeable neighbour may be able to help.
An explanatory leaflet about Casterton Neighbours, with the telephone number to ring, and a reminder 'fob' to go on a keyring, were delivered to every property in the parish during November 2018.
The modest funding for this initiative was provided by the parish council, and Community Heartbeat Trust (who supplied our defibrillators) were supportive and are part funding the cost of the freephone telephone number.
Any resident who would like to join the band of volunteers should contact the parish clerk firstname.lastname@example.org.