A GROUP set up following devastating floods in Cockermouth sprang into action when the coronavirus struck – and has proved hugely effective.

Cockermouth Emergency Response Group (CERG) was set up in December 2016 – a year after Storm Desmond – with the aim of ensuring the community is better prepared for flooding and other large-scale emergencies.

When the crisis hit, more than 200 people, many of whom had been furloughed, signed up to help. They ranged from teachers and opticians to drivers, cartographers and retired police officers – all with one common goal: to support their community.

Administrator Jo Crozier said: “Our emergency plan covers primarily floods but there are other events we can respond to.

“Because our group was already in place, we were able to be reactive. We had the mindset and a base of volunteers.

“We had the infrastructure in place and luckily we had just done our website.

“People are amazed at what their community is able to do for them – and so grateful.”

Throughout the crisis, CERG has been supporting residents by delivering shopping and medicines, walking dogs and posting parcels. It has also helped build protective barriers within the town health centre.

It is supporting up to 30 people who are self isolating and have no family nearby, with their shopping.

Six volunteers are delivering prescriptions for Castlegate and Derwent Surgery, others are delivering for the Food Pantry.

“The volunteers are up for anything, they’re very enthusiastic,” said Jo.

Up until the coronavirus crisis, CERG had a pool of 70 volunteers.

Many of them, because of their age, have had to self isolate.

However, a further 200 people have since come forward.

Some volunteers from Sellafield with building experience were able to make and install protective barriers at Cockermouth and Castlegate Surgery and pharmacy.

Others distributed leaflets round town, to ensure everyone knew what was on offer.

The pharmacy and surgery are grateful for all the support they have had from the volunteers.

A spokesman said: “Special thanks go to the Cockermouth Emergency Response Group who are supporting us and doing a fantastic job.”

Jo said: “We did not envisage the need being so great for such a period of time. We are trying to think now about what happens next.”

The group was set up by Churches Together in the Cockermouth Area, the town’s Rotary club and flood action group and is supported by the borough and county councils.

For more details, go to www.cerg.org.uk.