Urgent appeal to find new base of operations for Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue (CamSAR)

Camsar need a new home

Camsar need a new home - Credit: Archant

A volunteer organisation that helps emergency service look for vulnerable people is in need itself with news it could be homeless by the end of next month.

Camsar need a new home

Camsar need a new home - Credit: Archant

This year should be a year of celebration and congratulation as Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue known as CamSAR reaches its 10th anniversary.

Instead, the county’s dedicated lowland rescue team will be finding itself homeless for vital vehicle and equipment storage premises towards the end of July as they home at the South Fens Business Park, provided by Fenland District Council, will no longer be available.

Without such a base of operations, CamSAR’s response capabilities will be unavoidably curtailed until a suitable new home is found. The team needs immediate help!

Wayne Bent, search manager said: “It already costs around £30,000 to simply keep the team going each year and now without a premises we are not sure of our future. We are looking for somewhere to securely store three large vehicles inside away from the elements and have access to them 24/7/365 fairly centrally located in Cambridgeshire. We realise this is a huge ask but if we were not desperate we would not be appealing.

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“As a purely donation funded charity, every one of our volunteer members has had to be raising funds, attending training and also searching for missing people as well as fitting in family and working life too. Each one of our members is a special individual doing this vital role because of your support. Well over 8,000 person hours have gone into running the team in 2015 and each one of these hours is free of charge and free of pay but shows 100% dedication and is 100% voluntary.

“We understand that there are some amazing charities out there and we are probably one of the least well-known but that is the nature of what we do. We are not in this for the prestige and we do not do what we do for the kudos: we simply do it because we care and our county needs us. The work we do alongside Cambridgeshire Constabulary is invaluable and throughout every year of CamSAR’s existence they have stood by us and supported us in becoming the fantastic life saving team we are. I only hope we can continue to provide our service.”

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In the early years, East Cambridgeshire District Council gave space for parking, teaching and a small equipment storage facility at their Littleport depot. This is still used as a training centre but the team soon began to outgrow it. For the last six years, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue has allowed the use of its March, Littleport, Sawtry and most recently Cottenham stations for meeting and training.

The offer of a unit at South Fens Business Centre in Chatteris from Fenland District Council allowed CamSAR to develop a dedicated base for its incident control unit, support vehicles, boats, bikes and copious other equipment.

Mr Bent said: “Fenland has been an extremely generous and accommodating landlord, going above and beyond expectations to help and support the team. However, the time has come for a tenant to take up these once-vacant premises and CamSAR is now in urgent need of a replacement facility.”

A Fenland Council spokesman said: “We’ve been very happy to let CAMSAR use one of our vacant units at South Fens for the past two years and we’ve tried to find a way of continuing to help them. Unfortunately, we don’t have any other accommodation free that would be suitable for their needs. If anything does crop up, we’ll do our best to help.”

Can you help?

The need: secure indoor storage facility for three large vehicles plus additional equipment, with 24/7 access all year, located fairly centrally within Cambridgeshire.

All possible solutions welcomed

Contact: chair@camsar.org or secretary@camsar.org with any and all proposals.

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