The UCVR was the first organisation to respond swiftly to the needs of businesses in Upper Calder Valley after the Boxing day floods. We set up a Business Recovery Team consisting of representatives of the three business associations in the valley. The purpose was to combine local business knowledge, representation and expertise. This was so that a strong collective voice could be heard from the valley wide community and not have each individual town struggle to be heard, or for resources. That team immediately set about surveying the businesses to see what their immediate needs are and what they will need in the weeks and months going forward.
We have had a great response to our online survey and would urge businesses to continue to complete the survey. The data will initially be used by Calderdale Council to state the case for Government assistance but going forward we will use it to ensure that we can match any resources which are deployed to those who most need it.
Whilst businesses were focusing on the clean-up of premises and assessing the damage, our priority was to collect information based on those individual assessments. As we collate that information coming in, our priority has been shifting to how to best help those businesses with the needs they have identified. We asked people with particular or professional skills, who maybe had not been able to physically help with the immediate clear up, to pledge time in the future to help with the recovery strategy. And we have had some response to this request but we could always do with more people to add to the skills pledge database.
Our current focus is looking beyond the clear up and support for Calderdale’s funding bid. We are clear our businesses cannot rely on public support for donations in the way that people who have had their homes flooded can. So we are going to make the case for business to business support. We have as small team of volunteers who have begun the exercise of interviewing business owners who have had their businesses dramatically affected by the flooding. We will create a story blog of these personal stories and bring them to the attention of corporate organisation when asking for donations to help rebuild the valley wide economy.
We know people will want to help individual friends with businesses and that is fantastic but in the long run a much bigger fund needs to be available from a central source so no one slips through the net. Since 2004 the UCVR has been the link between the communities of the valley and we are best placed to continue that linkage. We have the corporate structure and capable board to undertake the task of co-ordinating the valley wide business and economic recovery. But we can only do this with the continued co-operation of community organisations who have the wider community interests at heart. The alternative is a divisive ‘every business and town for itself’.