Twitter storm brews in Cumbria

The floods (above) did immense damage on the community, but the group of twitter friends are striving to combat this. - Photo by Robert Haile

The floods (above) did immense damage on the community, but the group of twitter friends are striving to combat this. – Photo by Robert Haile

By Rachael Grealish and Beth Pipe

In an effort to reverse some of the damage done to Cumbrian businesses by the recent storms a group of Twitter friends and outdoor enthusiasts are creating their own storm – this time on social media.

Alex Charlton and Gary Redmond roped in fellow tweeters Paul McLoughlin, Rod Harrington and Beth Pipe – who between them have over 37,000 followers.

They’re pouring their collective Twitter expertise into @NotJustLakes – an account created and managed by the five of them to promote and support all local Cumbrian businesses.

Any local businesses including #NotJustLakes in their tweets are guaranteed a retweet, and things are starting to move pretty fast – within the first 72 hours the new account raced past 1500 followers.

Over the past months Cumbria has hit national headlines with reports of the flooding from storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.

These floods have had a devastating effect on the local communities and the cleanup operation for those forced from their homes continues.

As a result of all the negative media images visitors have been cancelling their holidays or simply not booking in the first place.

Hotels, holiday letting agencies and campsites are all reporting a huge downturn in advance bookings with some facing the very real danger of closure.

This lack of visitors will have a knock-on effect to other local businesses; shops, cafes, activity centres, etc., all face a tough year unless this trend can be reversed.

It’s been a real challenge for local businesses to get the good news out there.

This group plans to help small local businesses get that message out there and help to reverse the trend of cancellations.

Jamie Reed, Copeland MP, has been at the forefront in the fight to restore Cumbria after the devastation.
He said: “The government response has been entirely inadequate – embarrassingly so – and it has been left to local people to tell the world that we are open for business. #NotJustLakes is a brilliant outfit doing amazing stuff. In typical Cumbrian fashion, they’re doing it because nobody else would. They deserve massive support and real praise for picking up the baton and not staying quiet. Florence Mine, the Ennerdale Valley, Scafell, Ravenglass, there’s more to Cumbria than meets the eye – we should shout about it much more.”

What makes this alliance unique is that the group of five have never all been in the same room together – they connected via social media through their shared love of Cumbria and they’re using that passion to do something positive for the county.