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«Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering Report – SC120013/R3 We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve ...»

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Case study, survey, diary and interview

research on FCRM volunteering

Report – SC120013/R3

We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve the

environment and make it a better place for people and wildlife.

We operate at the place where environmental change has its

greatest impact on people’s lives. We reduce the risks to people and

properties from flooding; make sure there is enough water for people

and wildlife; protect and improve air, land and water quality and

apply the environmental standards within which industry can operate.

Acting to reduce climate change and helping people and wildlife adapt to its consequences are at the heart of all that we do.

We cannot do this alone. We work closely with a wide range of partners including government, business, local authorities, other agencies, civil society groups and the communities we serve.

This report is the result of research commissioned by the Environment Agency’s Evidence Directorate and funded by the joint Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research and Development Programme.

Published by: Author(s):

Environment Agency, Horison House, Deanery Road, Liz O’Brien, Bianca Ambrose-Oji, Ruth Williams, Jake Bristol, BS1 9AH Morris www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Dissemination Status:

ISBN: 978-1-84911-352-6 Publicly available


© Environment Agency – March 2015 Motivations, benefits, volunteering, value for money, All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced decision making, case study, flood warden with prior permission of the Environment Agency.

Research Contractor:

The views and statements expressed in this report are Forest Research, Alice Holt Lodge, Farnham, Surrey those of the author alone. The views or statements GU10 4LH expressed in this publication do not necessarily

Environment Agency’s Project Manager:

represent the views of the Environment Agency and the Environment Agency cannot accept any responsibility for Katherine Grose, Evidence Directorate such views or statements.

Theme Manager:

Email: fcerm.evidence@environment-agency.gov.uk. Jacqui Cotton, Incident Management and Community Engagement Further copies of this report are available from our

Project Number:

publications catalogue:


–  –  –

or our National Customer Contact Centre:

T: 03708 506506 Email: enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk ii Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Evidence at the Environment Agency Evidence underpins the work of the Environment Agency. It provides an up-to-date understanding of the world about us, helps us to develop tools and techniques to monitor and manage our environment as efficiently and effectively as possible. It also helps us to understand how the environment is changing and to identify what the future pressures may be.

The work of the Environment Agency’s Evidence Directorate is a key ingredient in the partnership between research, guidance and operations that enables the Environment Agency to protect and restore our environment.

This report was produced by the Scientific and Evidence Services team within

Evidence. The team focuses on four main areas of activity:

• Setting the agenda, by providing the evidence for decisions;

• Maintaining scientific credibility, by ensuring that our programmes and projects are fit for purpose and executed according to international standards;

• Carrying out research, either by contracting it out to research organisations and consultancies or by doing it ourselves;

• Delivering information, advice, tools and techniques, by making appropriate products available.

Miranda KavanaghDirector of Evidence

iii Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Executive summary This is the third report from a research project on ‘investigating and assessing the involvement of volunteers in flood and coastal risk management (FCRM) outcomes’. It presents the findings from primary data collected in England through four methods.

Online survey of FCRM volunteers Around three-quarters of the 63 participants had experienced flooding since 2007.

These were the volunteers most likely to put in more time per month to perform volunteering activities. Nearly half had volunteered for more than five years since the initial flooding incident and nearly half were willing or wanted to do more FCRM volunteering. FCRM volunteering made a significant difference to their understanding and ability to deal with flooding and flood risk. The majority of the volunteers were male (72%), aged over 54 (84%), retired (68%) and living in a rural area (63%).

The main motivations for volunteering included taking action to prevent flooding, helping the community, and taking on a leadership role in a community’s response to flooding. Volunteering has human capital, social capital, individual well-being and natural capital benefits. Volunteers continued their involvement because they wanted to serve the community, and because they understood the need for continued risk mitigation and the ongoing need for preparedness.

The main activities carried out by flood wardens involved: monitoring river or tide levels; participating in a flood group or forum to work with others to develop flood plans, raise awareness and monitor water levels; passing on flood warnings to the community; helping develop a flood plan; and operating flood gates or pumps.

FCRM volunteer diaries Diaries produced by 10 flood wardens and the activities from two flood groups provided more detail of the wide range of activities undertaken by FCRM volunteers. These


• campaign activities such as talking to local residents, attending meetings, helping to develop flood plans and giving presentations

• physical action such as clearing silt and debris from culverts and drains

• knowledge actions such as monitoring and inspecting water levels in rivers, culverts and so on

• virtual activities such as obtaining up-to-date information from the Environment Agency, Met Office or council websites and using Facebook and/or Twitter to contact the community Value for money questions The value for money questions posed in the online survey and interviews with volunteers looked at efficiency, effectiveness and relevance. Looking at the differences between the scores given for each governance type, the overall patterns do not suggest that any form of volunteer governance is significantly different from any other.

Case studies The four case studies looked at different governance approaches to FCRM volunteering.

• The Lincolnshire Flood Warden Scheme was an example of ‘direct management’ by the Environment Agency.

iv Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering

• The Cornwall Community Flood Forum and associated local flood groups was an example of ‘partnership working’ and communities working ‘for themselves’.

• The River Stewardship Company in Sheffield was an example of the Environment Agency working ‘through others’.

• The Bodenham Flood Protection Group in Herefordshire was an example of communities working ‘for themselves’.

The detailed information from the case studies corroborated data from the survey and diary interviews on the motivations and benefits of FCRM volunteering. It also highlighted the dynamic multi-way flow of information between organisations and volunteers that helps to increase the knowledge of all these groups about flood risk and how to cope with it.

Challenges and issues The four research methods highlighted the following challenges and issues facing

volunteers, community flood groups and organisations managing volunteers:

• understanding the role of flood wardens before, during and after a flood event

• issues of risk, responsibility and insurance

• how to involve more young volunteers in groups where current volunteers are retired and aging

• maintaining the interest and involvement of communities after a flood event

• recognition and reimbursement of volunteers

• managing the expectations of volunteers and communities Conclusions and recommendations The research showed that the distinction between the concept of volunteering, community engagement and community action is not clearly delineated and is open to different interpretations by Environment Agency staff as well as others.

It is essential for the Environment Agency to understand the communities and stakeholders it is working with. Mapping those groups and considering how and when to engage them and by what methods is critical. Working in partnership can bring differing expertise to the Environment Agency and how it engages with volunteers.

However, working in partnership requires effort and commitment.

Consideration needs to be given to how learning and insights can be cascaded through the Environment Agency from research it has commissioned on community engagement and volunteering and from the evaluation of projects it has set up in recent years to work ‘through others’.

–  –  –

• the Environment Agency staff who agreed to be interviewed or who gave us contacts and information for the case study work

• staff from organisations working in partnership with the Environment Agency in the case studies that agreed to be interviewed

• the Environment Agency project manager for her advice and support

–  –  –

viii Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering

1 Introduction

This document describes Work Package 3 of the Environment Agency project, ‘Investigating and appraising the involvement of volunteers in achieving FCRM

outcomes’, being carried out on its behalf by Forest Research. The work consisted of:

• case study research of flood and coastal risk management (FCRM) volunteering via interviews and analysis of background information

• a survey of FCRM volunteers

• volunteer diaries and interviews

• questions on the value for money of FCRM volunteering It is important to note that this research was carried out before the winter 2013 to 2014 coastal and inland flooding.

The objectives of the overall research project were to:

1. Establish a common and up-to-date understanding of volunteer involvement in flood and coastal risk management (FCRM) activities. This baseline information will be used to identify FCRM activities delivered by volunteers.

2. Develop a consistent evaluation framework that enables the Environment Agency and others to consider the benefits of involving volunteers in the delivery of FCRM activities.

3. Understand why people are motivated to get involved in FCRM activities in their communities, the capabilities they need and their capacity to help deliver a range of FCRM outcomes. Using the evaluation framework developed to meet Objective 2, this analysis will include whether volunteers working on FCRM activities may be willing to help bring about other environmental outcomes.

4. Develop a strong evidence base (including case studies) that explores the effectiveness of involving others in the delivery of FCRM activities and assesses the efficiencies a range of approaches may realise. This includes whether working through other organisations would enable the Environment Agency to achieve more outcomes in communities at risk of flooding.

5. Enable the Environment Agency and other flood risk management authorities to take evidence based decisions on how and when to engage, develop and sustain volunteer participation in FCRM activities.

6. Inform the development of operational guidance that equips Environment Agency staff to target their efforts effectively and to maximise the benefits of involving volunteers in the delivery of FCRM outcomes.

7. Ensure both internal colleagues and external stakeholders are kept informed in an engaging way.

Figure 1.1 provides an overview of how these seven objectives sit together.

This report addresses objectives 3 and 4, and part of objective 5. Other reports

available from this research include:

• Work Package 1 Report: FCRM volunteering baseline data and typology development.

With supporting resource spreadsheet: ‘Environment Agency volunteer case studies baseline dataset – 97 examples’.

Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering

• Work Package 2 Report: Developing an FCRM evaluation framework With two supporting resource spreadsheets: ‘Environment Agency volunteer evaluation review’ and ‘Environment Agency evaluation framework criteria and indicators’

• Work Package 3 Report: Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering

• Work Package 4 Report: Issues and options concerning FCRM volunteering • ‘Volunteers’ contribution to flood resilience’, Research Note by Forest Research for the Environment Agency, March 2014

–  –  –

2 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering 2 Objectives

The objectives of Work Package (WP3) were to:

• explore why volunteers are motivated to get involved in FCRM activities in their communities, the benefits they gain from this, any guidance and support needs they have, and their capacity to deliver FCRM and wider environmental outcomes

• examine the effectiveness of Environment Agency working with partner organisations and communities to enable volunteers to deliver FCRM outcomes

• understand the value for money of FCRM volunteering

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