Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England

How can children contribute to current flood policy making? We devised one way for this to happen by invoking their Flood Manifestos – see here.

Flood Suitcase case study

The latest outing for the Flood Suitcase was at St. Michael’s on Wyre Primary School in Lancashire. You can read how it went down with the children here.

Working with children and young people to build community resilience in Fukushima

Alison Lloyd Williams has recently returned from a two-month research fellowship in Fukushima, Japan working with children and young people affected by the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. This is a project that built on the work in the Children, Young People and Flooding project. You can read all about it at the CUIDAR project website here.

Environment Agency Project Excellence Awards 2017

We are delighted to report that our Children, Young People and Flooding was the joint winner in the Building Resilience category, Environment Agency Project Excellence Awards 2017 – Flood & Coast 2017 Conference, Telford International Centre, 29th March 2017.

The Flood Suitcase project in Cumbria

The flood suitcase

The flood suitcase

We recently conducted work with children and parents in Cumbria affected by the flooding caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015. Our team developed a programme of activities based around a ‘Flood Suitcase’ – a toolkit of resources which drew on the methods we used during the Children, Young People and Flooding project and adapted them for use with children more recently affected by flooding.

A group of 18 primary school children and five parents took part in two creative workshops during the 2016 summer term. The group walked around the local flood-affected area taking photos and we used drama games and exercises, sandplay and modelling to help the children tell their story of the floods and share their experiences with others.

We worked alongside staff from the school and the children’s charity, Barnardo’s, training them in the use of the methods so that they would be able to run workshops with other groups of flood-affected children and train colleagues in the use of the resource.

At the end of the workshops, the group was given its own ‘Flood Suitcase’ to keep in school, which the children had co-designed. This suitcase is a place to store photographs and other items that evoke memories of the flood and the recovery process, and could ultimately provide a focus for discussing flooding in school and opening a dialogue about community flood awareness and resilience building.

The Flood Suitcase project ended with some evaluation sessions with the children, parents and staff. A number of the children talked about how the workshops had been both fun and helpful and they had lots of ideas about how to continue using the school’s Flood Suitcase!

A Children’s Manifesto for Change

Alison Lloyd Williams recently presented a paper ‘The Flood Project: a Children’s Manifesto for Change’ at the conference Children and Young People in a Changing World: Action, Agency and Participation held at Liverpool Hope University on 23-24 June 2016.

The mayor is chatting to one of the primary school project participants

Talking to the mayor at the project stakeholder event

The event was attended by a diverse range of colleagues including academics and practitioners working with children and young people in a variety of settings. Alison said “there were some fascinating and thought-provoking presentations which explored key questions about children’s citizenship and agency, intergenerational perspectives and how children and young people take part in research”.Alison’s presentation was part of the themed section ‘individual and collective agency and political participation’. Her paper focused on the creative methods that we used with the children in the Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience project, both during the research workshops and to speak to stakeholders about the findings. Delegates responded positively to our project and there was a particular interest in the way that the children’s voices were impacting on policy and practice.

Further TV and Radio Coverage of our Research, February and March 2016

February marked the two-year anniversary of the Surrey flooding and this generated a lot of local interest in our research. BBC London News featured a report about our project on the 11th February evening programme. The reporter visited The Magna Carta School and spoke to staff and students involved in the work, as well as interviewing Maggie Mort.

BBC Radio Surrey also interviewed Marion Walker about our project on the 10th February drivetime show and, a few weeks later when the Magna Carta students took their message to Parliament, the radio station reported on their visit to Westminster and included daily features with the young people on the breakfast programme.

Maggie Mort was also interviewed for a BBC Northwest Tonight special report on 22nd March concerning the impact of the recent flooding on families in our local region. The feature then received national coverage through the BBC News App School children describe the impact of December flooding.

EU conference hears the message about the importance of children’s perspectives

Marion and Maggie from the Lancaster team, and CUIDAR partners Magda from University of Thessaly and Israel from Open University of Catalonia attended a very timely joint (POP-ALERT and TACTIC) conference in Brussels on disaster preparedness and resilience training. A range of fascinating presentations about crisis preparation, risk and resilience can now be downloaded from the TACTIC site. Maggie gave a presentation from the Children, Young People and Flooding project focusing specifically on creative ways of enabling children to give voice to their experiences. She then mentioned how this project had led to the development of our current Horizon2020 initiative, the Coordination & Support Action CUIDAR. Ironically, the events took place at a time of very heightened tension in Brussels.

Maggie Mort and Marion Walker at the POP-ALERT/TACTIC conference in Brussels 16 March 2016

Young People from the Flooding project have now taken their message to the House of Commons

Students from The Magna Carta School in Staines gave evidence at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services session on Flooding. They told the meeting what the floods meant for them and presented their Flood Manifestos for Change, which were very well received by the Chair, Craig Tracey MP.

Young people at Houses of Parliament

The Floods Project group at the House of Commons 15 March 2016

Children in dialogue with Government – at last 

Here we are at this huge Flood & Coast 2016 conference convened by the Environment Agency (EA) – the only forum we’re told, which brings together government agencies, industry and academics all engaged in wrestling with the highly controversial and complex issue of flooding in England……and what happens?

Top EA directors find time to engage with a small group of young people who were flooded and want to share their experiences. What’s even more remarkable is how these high level decision makers seem to be taking notice of what these teenagers have called for in their Flood Manifesto for Change.

We’ve heard at this conference about how the EA is exploring the balance between ‘resisting’ floods and flood ‘resilience’.  Measures called for in the Young People’s Flood Manifesto address this issue directly.  In our ESRC project we highlight how children and young people can be active in policymaking  – perhaps this is the moment when it all comes together.

Maggie Mort and Marion Walker at the International Conference Centre, Telford, UK 25 February 2016

Reflecting on Storm Desmond

The BBC online ‘live reporting’ of events during Storm Desmond has been illuminating – that’s if of course you’ve had electricity. Many people in the affected zones had none, and with no mobile phone coverage over the weekend, battery or wind-up radio would have been their only source of information.

‘Unprecedented’ has been the mantra of politicians, claiming that flooding such as this is an infrequent occurrence. But tell that to the people in Carlisle or Cockermouth who are now flooded out of their homes for the second time in ten years. Or to people in Hull where more than 8,000 homes were flooded in 2007. Severe flooding should now be expected.

What’s it really like clearing up after a major flood? In our evidence to the Government’s Pitt Review into the 2007 floods based on our research into their effects on Hull we tried to convey some of what people had told us.

What our work on the floods in Hull showed was that no one talked to the children who’d lost their homes and social networks. In our current research we’re working with a group of children in South Ferriby (Humberside) who were flooded on December 5 2013 during the storm surge of that winter, exactly two years ago to the day from Storm Desmond. These children and another group from Staines-upon-Thames (severely flooded in February 2014) have made a film and produced Flood Manifestos for Change.

These manifestos call for further measures to help prepare for, manage and recover from floods such as lessons in school about flooding and other emergencies; teachers to be trained about floods and how they affect people; groups set up for children affected so they can talk and get support; insurance companies to listen more to what children and families need; clearer flood warnings that people can understand and better flood defences with more building on stilts.

Because they’ve survived floods (at considerable cost) these children can cut through bureaucracy. Such multiple measures are needed to help prevent, prepare and recover from floods.  It’s widely accepted that in the UK flood emergency response itself is effective and caring, but we also know that recovery is long, complex and does not follow in a linear path (Hull Children’s Flood Project final report). We know that what matters to people now is how they are treated by agencies and organisations; how they can look after their health; how they can find support from people who understand and, a little later, how they can participate in resilience work so that they do not fall prey to fatalism and depression.

‘You feel like you’ve lost a year of your life’ (Male student, 14, Staines-upon-Thames).

BBC TV and Radio Coverage of the Project, December 2015

In the week that marked the two year anniversary of the tidal flood in South Ferriby local news organisations reported on our project. On Wednesday 2nd December 2015 BBC Look North TV (East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) visited South Ferriby Primary School and talked to the children and teachers involved in the project. Maggie Mort was also interviewed for this report which was shown on the lunchtime and evening news programmes. In addition Marion Walker gave a live interview for BBC Radio Humberside that same evening.

British Damage Management Association 2015 Conference

Members of the Lancaster University and Save the Children team, along with children from South Ferriby Primary School, travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon on 26th November 2015 to give a presentation to delegates at the British Damage Management Association (BDMA) conference. This was a fantastic opportunity for the children to speak directly to those from the insurance and damage management industry who work with communities affected by flooding and we were delighted to be invited by the BDMA to do this. Following the presentation, the delegates were given copies of the project flood manifestos and invited to make pledges of action as to how they would respond.

Maggie and fellow presenters from South Ferriby Primary School

Maggie and fellow presenters from South Ferriby Primary School

The presentation was very warmly received by the BDMA delegates. Many commented on how valuable it was to hear first-hand about the children’s experiences and perspectives and there was a lot of interest generated in the project with commitments to taking the manifestos forward. The children really enjoyed the experience of being able to present their ideas to such an important audience and the project team also really welcomed the chance to meet and talk with members of the industry, as well as listen to other speakers at the event.


Humanitarian Assistance Workshop

Two members of our project team Marion Walker, Senior Research Associate, Lancaster University and Ginny Howells, Emergencies Manager, Save the Children UK led workshops at The Emergency Planning Society National Workshop on Humanitarian Assistance held on 21st October 2015 at County Hall, Exeter.

The theme for the day was raising awareness of children’s needs and vulnerabilities in emergencies. The event was attended by delegates from local authorities including emergency services, civil contingencies and emergency planning officers.

grey and brown wool swirling around a tall structure made of corrugated brown paper set amongst sand, pebbbles moss and a small blue feather

After the flood

Marion’s session ‘Children, Young People and Flooding’ focused on innovative ways to help children articulate their flood experiences and the ways in which children’s voices can help to build community resilience and be brought to disaster risk management.

Ginny’s session ‘Child refugee crisis: the role of humanitarian assistance’ detailed the urgent need to provide appropriate assistance to refugee children arriving in the EU. The majority of children will have experienced a triple trauma: firstly as a result of having to flee their home, secondly along the journey where some may become separated from their parents and thirdly learning to cope with life in a new country.

After the workshop Marion said “the key message I took away with me today is that following a disaster it is crucial that children, and their families, are provided with welcoming spaces where they can talk about their experiences so that children ‘do not slip through the gaps’. We need to be thinking about children’s emotional wellbeing as well as their physical needs.”

Flooding and Resilience Workshop

Maggie took the Children, young people and disaster poster to a workshop on Flooding and Resilience hosted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London on 24 September 2015.

This event brought together people from the Environment Agency; Public Health England, County Council emergency planners and public health specialists; Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Dept. of Health; charities and academics specialising in flood research and recovery. ‘Ours was the only project represented which focussed on the experience and needs of children and young people’, Maggie commented. ‘The children’s Flood Manifestos were given out and very well received’.

Royal Geographical Society with IBG 2015 Conference

On the 3rd September 2015 Marion and Ginny presented their paper Forging new channels in UK flood strategy: children’s voice in the politics of flood risk management at the Royal Geographical Society with IBG Annual International Conference in a session dedicated to Community Resilience.

child and adult chatting together beside the exhibition

Project participant chatting with stakeholder from the insurance sector

Marion said, “It was really interesting presenting our paper at the RGS conference, hearing stories about community resilience across the world, and most especially making the links around the cross cutting themes of adaptation, social capital and connectedness, mobility and migration.”

Ginny added that “the common thread that ran through the presentations was the need to understand individual and community experience in order to build resilience. Our argument – that children have a role to play in building resilience and that they need to be listened to – was warmly welcomed.”

Emotional Geographies 2015 Conference  

Amanda Bingley presented a paper at the 5th International Emotional Geographies Conference in Edinburgh on 11th/12th June 2015:

3D model of home with mud in the garden and up to the front door

“And there was mud, mud everywhere”

Swept inside out: children’s experiences of changed relationships between home, community and landscape after the floods

3D Image of house with mud and stones on the doorstep

“And there was mud …on the bushes, and on the steps and it was horrible”

Amanda reported that “it was great to connect with others about the shift in children’s knowledge of their local landscape as a result of the floods and how this changed relationship could help them recover and build resilience for the future.”

Climate Outreach (formerly COIN) and Understanding Risk Workshop

3D model of hands holding the flooded community

Model of the flooded community

On the 10th June 2015 Maggie Mort attended a workshop organised by Climate Outreach (formerly COIN) and the Understanding Risk Research Group held at Oxford University.

In the wake of the winter floods of 2013/14, a growing number of research studies and practical initiatives have focused on how members of the public engage with flooding in the context of climate change. The workshop brought together leading researchers and practitioners working in this field, in order to share and synthesise knowledge.

The event was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

2015 International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network

Alison Lloyd Williams, Research Associate on our project at Lancaster, attended the 3rd International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network at the European University in Nicosia, Cyprus in June 2015. The conference brought together academics, researchers, policymakers and practitioners to discuss emerging theories and methods in child and youth research.

It's where I first saw the water

“It’s where I first saw the water”

Alison gave a paper presentation about our project at the conference as part of a symposium on the potential of ‘mobile methods’ in researching children and young people’s lives. The presentation, entitled ‘It’s where I first saw the water’: walking and talking along a flood landscape with children and young people, focused on the active ways we have worked with the young people on this project, including walking through flood-affected local environments, taking photographs and model making.

Alison said, “The conference provided a great opportunity to share ideas and practice about research with young people across a wide range of disciplines.”

EU Civil Protection Forum

Virginia Howells, Save the Children and a member of our project team, attended the EU Civil Protection Forum in May 2015. The forum brought together the European civil protection community to take stock of common achievements in the disaster risk management field, share best practices and ideas, and discuss ways of addressing new challenges together.

Clay model of a beached boat on the riverbank the day after the flood

Model of the day after the flood

Virginia said, “It was great to be able to network with civil protection experts from across the EU and share our learning from the Children, Young People and Disasters project.”

Public Policy Exchange Symposium

On the 14th April 2015, Maggie Mort, a member of our project team, attended the symposium in London organised by the Public Policy Exchange: ‘Strengthening the UK’s Resilience to Flooding: Designing Effective Strategies at a National and Local Level’. Maggie commented that this “was a great opportunity to bring our project to the attention of local and national level policymakers.”

Pledges from policymakers and practitioners at our project stakeholder event

Pledges from policymakers and practitioners at our project stakeholder event