Charities face up to storm damage after Ciara and Dennis

Charities ranging from a puppy training centre to a library hit by extreme weather

The River Severn burst its banks in Bridgnorth

The River Severn burst its banks in Bridgnorth in Shropshire (Photo: Nigel Parker via Flickr, Public Domain)

Annette McGill

Storms Ciara and Dennis have left a trail of damage to charity properties across the UK. As charities start to assess the impacts of the extreme weather on their buildings and properties and on their ability to deliver services to stakeholders, this article provides a snapshot of some of the organisations affected.

Near Milton Keynes, the charity Medical Detection Dogs saw a section of roof ripped of its puppy training centre. The charity trains dogs to sniff out illnesses such cancer and diabetes before they can be detected by conventional tests. The new centre had been opened by the Duchess of Cornwall in 2019. 

The Metro newspaper quoted the charity’s Chief Executive, Claire Guest who said: ‘The damage from storm Ciara is heart-breaking in that it will slow us down but we will all pull together to make sure we can continue with business as usual as much as possible. " She said the charity has launched a fundraiser to help repair the damage done to the building.

The Sustainable Land Trust in Leicestershire is calling for volunteers after storm damage to the kitchen garden and outdoor field study areas at its centre near Melton Mowbray. The facilities are used by people with learning and physical disabilities.

Torquay library, which is run by the Devon charity Libraries Unlimited, has had to close for safety reasons due to water damage to the ceiling. 

In Southampton, a building used by the Samaritans was left flooded by storm Ciara after thieves stole lead from the roof. The Daily Echo reported that the  duty room where volunteers take up to 30 telephone calls per day was left soaked by the storm.The roof had been undergoing repairs, and it is believed the thieves climbed scaffolding and removed the lead over several nights during the week before Ciara hit. 

Near Wokingham, the drug and alcohol charity Yelldall Manor also suffered roof damage. The Wokingham Paper spoke to the charity's communication manager Sue Hedger, who said: “There was some damage to vehicles and equipment as well as the roof, which has sustained serious damage. We hope that this will be covered by insurance, although it also comes on top of the need to repair and replace the whole roof of the Main House.”  Yelldall Manor is already running a fundraising campaign to raise the £50,000 for repairs.

Many charity shops are will have been affected. The Calder Valley in West Yorkshire was one of the areas hit by severe flooding. The Hebden Bridge RSPCA shop was flooded by storm Ciara; the day before storm Dennis arrived, the local team reported: "We've been working hard clearing out all of the damaged stock and display units, disinfecting, cleaning and painting." 

Help needed

The damage to charity buildings and equpment will pose a significant challenge for many charities. Small charities with limited resources and fragile budgets are particularly vulnerable. 

If you or your organisation can offer support to a charity affected by extreme weather, please do!

Help can include:

  • temporary office space
  • storage for equipment 
  • advice on builders and contractors
  • volunteering for clean-up work
  • in-kind contributions
  • fund raising for recovery
  • cash!

If your charity has been flooded

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer direct help to individual charities. Our web page on How to clear up after flooding offers advice on first steps to take.