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Thanks a million! Somerset Levels flood appeal hits target in just 10 weeks

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 13, 2014

By TINA ROWE

Thanks a million! Somerset Levels flood appeal hits target in just 10 weeks

The Somerset Community Foundation's Emergency Flood Appeal stands at £1m

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One million pounds! That's the magnificent target reached by the Somerset Community Foundation's Emergency Flood Appeal.

It is a superb example of how the kindness of strangers can make a difference, helping to rebuild shattered lives and communities. And the sum has been raised in just ten weeks.

Donations have come from people, organisations and businesses from within Somerset, the rest of Britain, and across the world. Yesterday a delighted Justin Sargent, chief executive of the foundation, told the Western Daily Press: "We can now announce that with the money in the pipeline the fund stands at £1 million. The amazing response has been driven by local people who live, work and breathe the Somerset Levels. They in turn have been held up and supported by an unbelievable response from across the UK, confounding myths about urban-rural, north-south and cultural divisions."

Mr Sargent added: "We are very grateful and want people to know that we now feel we have enough to do the job we have set out to do to rebuild lives, micro-businesses and communities."

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The fund has now given out £230,000 to more than 300 households. It includes a £10,000 grant to the National Farmers' Union for organising the funding of the fodder distribution.

The first grants have been given to those facing immediate hardship, for such help as meeting the cost of emergency accommodation, providing clothing for people who were evacuated at short notice, and helping people who have not been able to work.

The second phase was to launch grants for micro-businesses that have been affected by the floods, and which play a strong part in rural communities. Grants, between £1,000 and £3,000 are available and applications will be processed in the next two-three weeks.

Mr Sargent said: "We are also continuing to support charities and voluntary organisations in their relief efforts, and we are getting ready for the third phase, applications from households for the recovery phase. If people still want to support the communities affected they can still do so through the Foundation. We are now beginning to look at long-term support to make communities more resilient. For me, the story of the 2014 Somerset Floods has been about community. We have seen whole communities devastated and pulled apart by the flooding, and witnessed a ground-swell of community-led action to protect, assist and support those most affected.

"At Somerset Community Foundation we have witnessed this support in the thousands of donations we have received over the past few weeks. Having spoken to many who have been flooded or evacuated, I know this means everything to them."

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