In response to the flooding that has afflicted so many parts of the country since the start of 2014, churches and their halls have been swiftly converted into makeshift shelters, cafés, drop-in centres and distribution points. They have become essential hubs providing information, warmth and welcome, as well as food and drink to victims, volunteers and rescue services.
At St Paul’s in Egham Hythe, Surrey (Diocese of Guildford) volunteers have been sorting food parcels for flood victims whilst nearby at St John’s they have been coordinating relief efforts dispatching essentials to those in need. St Peter and St Paul’s, Yalding (Diocese of Rochester) has been open as a place of warmth and welcome whilst St Peter’s in Chertsey (Diocese of Guildford) has been transformed into a ‘flood command centre’ from where local groups have been coordinated, advisers have provided practical assistance, and alternative accommodation has been found, whilst providing refreshments and a place of rest. In the Somerset Levels, the church of St Peter and St Paul, Muchelney (Diocese of Bath and Wells) sits on high ground and, taking advantage of its dry position, has been used for storing and providing food, acting as a post office and central community hub.
Unfortunately some church buildings have themselves been affected by the high water levels. Useful guidance for those managing historic buildings threatened by flooding as well as their repair following flooding is available from Historic England. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group also has useful advice for churches to consider - click here.
The Church Urban Fund has opened a fund to help those whose lives have been devastated and to provide support where it is most needed. To donate, click here.
Please also check our guidance on disaster management plans to help prepare for any similar scenarios in the future.