Flood Suitcase

Flood Recovery

two painted cardboard suitcases

Designing the Flood Suitcase

The Flood Suitcase is a workshop programme designed to support flood-affected children and young people and build more resilient schools and communities. The programme was developed from the creative methods used during the Children, Young People and Flooding Project and are designed to support children to talk about their experiences of flooding in a safe space.

Lancaster researchers piloted the Flood Suitcase programme with children and parents in Cumbria affected by the flooding caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015. A group of 18 primary school children and five parents took part in two creative workshops during the 2016 summer term. The group walked and took photos around the local flood-affected area and the workshops drew on drama games and exercises, sandplay and 3D modelling to help the children tell their story of the floods and share their experiences with others.

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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 which evoke memories of the flood and the recovery process. It also provides a focus for discussing flooding in school and opening a dialogue about community flood awareness and resilience building.

The Flood Suitcase pilot project ended with 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!

Following this pilot, the research team ran the Flood Suitcase project in 2017 at St. Michael’s on Wyre C.E. Primary School in Lancashire and wrote a short case study about this. During both projects, the team worked alongside staff from the children’s charity, Barnardo’s, training them in the use of the Flood Suitcase.

colage of resources including book Memories o the Flood, photographs and the Flood Suitcase

Some of the resources the children saved in their school Flood Suitcase


Barnardo’s have since run the Flood Suitcase programme successfully in three primary schools in Cumbria. The children who took part in this work with Barnardo’s reported that the project had helped them to better understand flooding and what action to take when there is the risk of a flood. Many said how much they had enjoyed the work and that they wanted to learn more about flooding.

The workshop facilitator’s Flood Suitcase

If you are interested in the Flood Suitcase workshop programme for your school or youth group, please contact us at:



Please reference as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University

Useful Links

Lancaster University research into the social effects of flooding:

Hull Floods Project (2007-2009). Officially known as: Flood, Vulnerability and Urban Resilience: A real-time study of local recovery following the floods of June 2007 in Hull

Hull Children’s Flood Project (2007-2011). Officially known as: Children, Flood and Urban Resilience: Understanding children and young people’s experience and agency in the flood recovery process

Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience (2014-2016)

CUIDAR: Cultures of Disaster Resilience among Children and Young People (2015-2018). European wide project, aiming to enhance the resilience of children, young people and urban societies to disasters and enable disaster responders to meet children and young people’s needs more effectively.

Flood education resources:

The Lancaster Children, Young People and Flooding project website features an extensive range of educational resources for teachers, families and flood risk authorities connected to flood preparation, awareness raising and resilience building.

External links and innovative approaches to ‘flooding and society’:


Flooding – a social impact archive is a hub for research into the social effects of flooding. This site provides a gateway to research materials and data produced from a range of studies carried out at Lancaster University, UK. It provides information about how to undertake, analyse and use social research in flood policy and practice.

Aerial shot of small modern housing estate engulfed in flood water

Cumbria 2009


Flooding is the UK’s most serious ‘natural’ hazard with more than five million properties at risk and, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we can expect more severe flooding over the coming years. In the context of climate change and increased urbanisation, floods in the UK can damage property, businesses and infrastructure. Data on hydrology and economic impacts is collected in the aftermath of a flood and is used routinely by risk management authorities. It is known, however, that floods dramatically affect people’s lives and livelihoods. They destroy homes, treasured possessions and can damage social networks. Floods can affect physical and mental health, alongside family and community cohesion.

Flooded area of Wyre Forest

Wyre Forest 2014

Evidence of these social effects is important to improve future response by authorities and to help people understand what a flood could do to their lives. Moreover, providing accounts of how people’s lives are affected enables both authorities and the public to connect with flood impacts more effectively than through hydrological or economic data.


Social scientists at Lancaster University have researched the effects of floods on the lives of adults and children in three major projects: Hull Floods Project (2007-2009), Hull Children’s Flood Project (2007-2011) and Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience (2014-16). In addition to peer-reviewed publications, these projects have generated videos, pictures and stories that express the social effects of flooding. This site collates and makes these and other Lancaster University flood research materials available to both authorities and the public as an open access resource, hosted, administered and managed by the University.

Please reference this site as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University