VITAL ways in which residents of North East Lincolnshire can protect themselves from flooding will now be offered to households by members of the area’s growing Blue Lights Brigade (BLB).

VITAL ways in which residents of North East Lincolnshire can protect themselves from flooding will now be offered to households by members of the area’s growing Blue Lights Brigade (BLB).

There are now more than 300 members of this voluntary organisation, which was originally established to harness the skills of retired emergency services personnel – but has it since expanded to encourage professionals of all ages to join from our local communities.

Members recently attended a flood warning and training session. Held at Grimsby’s Enterprise Village, Environment Agency Flood Risk Resilience Officer, Melanie Byrne and colleague Samantha Jeeawock led the training – supported by former police officer and BLB Manager Steve Jones.

“People can be helped at any time of the year with regard to flood prevention and the more we see flooding the more people do listen. The Environment Agency works with partners to raise awareness in high risk areas and as we approach the winter season, we are looking to raise that awareness even more,” said Melanie.

“During this training session we will go through the before, the during and the after,” she added.

During the session volunteers were briefed on the flood areas in North East Lincolnshire and their roles in the event of an emergency. One important element, explained Melanie, was to ensure emergency services personnel who were deployed from outside the area were familiarised with any flood scene. Other work included instant information and response messages on social media, informing people of actions they can take and raising awareness in North East Lincolnshire of the 18 tidal sirens and one river siren that exist to alert residents.

Listening to the presentation was Jennifer Clarke – a retired Grimsby professional who joined the BLB Community Emergency Resilience Team after a career working with hazardous substances. Knowing the importance of health and safety, she wanted to offer practical help to the community.

Over the last few months she has volunteered with BLB at events such as the Grimsby 10k, Armed Forces Weekend and the North Thoresby 1940s weekend.

“We work as a real team and always have buddies with us. The benefits that we can bring are varied, offering practical help and assistance which is great. For those of us who have retired it gets us out and about, meeting people and using the skills that we have built up over the years,” said Jennifer.

Paige Brown, 16, joined BLB just over a month ago as a way of expanding her CV as she looks for a naval career. She is currently on the Public Services course at the Grimsby Institute.

“This is a great opportunity for me to learn new skills and to supplement the course,” said Paige.

Officially launched in 2018 under the VANEL (Voluntary Action North East Lincolnshire) banner, BLB was awarded an initial £77,500 funding from the NESTA Connected Communities Innovation Fund, with an additional £60,000 in match funding secured by the team since start-up.   It is now working hard to secure further funding to be sustainable and expand the work in other areas, with 49 volunteers now CERT (Community Engagement Response Team) trained.

For more information on BLB please contact Steve Jones: stephen@vanel.org.uk or telephone: 01472 245510.

To report any flooding you can call the Environment Agency 24-hour incident hotline on 0800 807060 for advice before, during and after a flood.

For surface water flooding help and advice call the 24-hour floodline on 0345 9881188 www.gov.uk/flood or North East Lincolnshire Council on 01472 324351 www.nelincs.gov.uk/flooding  

If you think your life is in danger call 999.

Floodtrain: Members of BLB keen to learn about how they can help the community to protect themselves from, and react to, flooding.