«Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering Report – SC120013/R3 We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve ...»
In all the case studies, volunteers were able to increase their knowledge in relation to flood risk, mitigation and response. This increased their sense of control and understanding of how to interpret when they and their community would be most at risk.
Barriers to getting involved in volunteering include a lack of understanding of what the role and task of an FCRM volunteer is. A lack of appropriate information given at the right time to volunteers, and a lack of understanding of the role of different organisations and their responsibilities also acted as a barrier for some volunteers.
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering 5 Discussion 5.1 Reflection on results across all data collected It is clear from the primary data collected in this study that flood warden volunteers gain a lot from their involvement in FCRM volunteering in terms of feeling that they are managing risk, up-skilling in terms of how to deal with and understand the risks they face, and building a sense of community resilience. For the majority of volunteers in this study, flooding and flood risk are of vital importance and are what drives and motivates them to get involved and stay involved. While for other volunteers such as those in the River Stewardship Company example flooding (Section 4.8.3) is not the central focus, rather it is gaining skills to improve employability that is important.
The main determinants of FCRM volunteering are outlined in Figure 5.1. The values and attitudes of volunteers are important; for example, many valued their community and wanted to help not only themselves but also the wider community in which they lived. The degree of flood risk in the community was important and flood events often acted as a catalyst to action. Also important was the extent to which a person or people they knew were specifically at risk in their own households. Many were interested in the technical issue of flooding and the route to getting involved in volunteering, if clear, made it easier for people to engage.
Figure 5.1 Main determinants of FCRM volunteering A potential way to represent volunteering is presented in Figure 5.
2 with a matrix from ‘light touch’ volunteering to ‘proactive community action’, along with ‘light touch’ engagement from the Environment Agency through to ‘strong engagement’ by the Environment Agency.
Figure 5.2 FCRM volunteer and Environment Agency engagement matrix Comparing the primary empirical data with the evidence from the documents collated in the Work Package 1 report (Environment Agency 2015a), it is clear that the dimensions of volunteering identified there are upheld.
However, these dimensions exist along a spectrum of volunteering. Central to this spectrum are what we identified as ‘volunteer segments’ identified in the Work Package 1 report, that is, ‘community’, ‘partnership’ and ‘individual’ (Environment Agency 2015a) These segments relate to the motivations and benefits of the volunteers getting involved, with community focused benefits at one end of the spectrum and individual benefits at the other. Motivations and values at the community end of the spectrum relate to protection of property, human life and community security, while motivations and values at the individual end relate to issues such as skills development as expressed by the RSC volunteers.
Volunteering governance types map onto this spectrum as shown in Figure 5.3. ‘For themselves’ sits at the community end and volunteering ‘through others’ sits at the opposite end of the spectrum, alongside the greater level of individual motivations and benefits. It is interesting to note that working ‘directly for the Environment Agency’ is a governance option that exists along the spectrum involving community focused volunteering as well as some more individual volunteers.
There is also a link between volunteering segment and the sociodemographic characteristics of volunteers. The empirical data suggested older, retired people who are more able to give their time sit at the community end of the spectrum, whereas at the individual side, there is a more varied and somewhat younger demographic profile where volunteering helps to develop CVs, open up networking opportunities and serves volunteers looking for employment opportunities. There is some suggestion in the empirical evidence that people with skills and technical knowledge of relevance to FRCM volunteering are more likely to be involved in volunteering at the community end of the spectrum.
Figure 5.3 Spectrum of volunteering showing three overlapping dimensions – governance, segment and primary activity This study has mainly focused on rural or peri-urban areas.
The challenges faced in larger urban areas will differ and the mode of engagement by the Environment Agency may need to be adapted for these areas.
5.2 Wider context
5.2.1 Community resilience The flood volunteering examined in this report is set within a wider context of community resilience and community emergency planning (Cabinet Office 2011a). The Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience (Cabinet Office 2011b) provides a national statement for how individual and community resilience can work.
Community resilience is defined as:
‘the capacity of an individual, community or system to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of function, structure and identity’.
And also as:
‘Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services’.
The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 requires the publication of all or part of a risk assessment for local communities by local category 1 responders such as local 78 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering authorities, emergency services and the Environment Agency. The Lincolnshire, Bodenham and Cornwall case studies all talk about wider community resilience and emergency planning, with flooding being one of the most important risks that many of these communities face. There is some discussion as to what extent flood wardens could or would volunteer for other community emergencies.
5.2.2 Existing and past projects and research – learning lessons The national Floodwise campaign that focused on flood engagement activities, and which ran from 2009 to 2012, reflects a strategic shift within the Environment Agency to a greater community based approach with the employment of community engagement
staff. A range of projects have been created such as:
• Boro Becks in Middlesbrough (Groundwork North East 2012)
• a project led by the Source Partnership in the Todmorden catchment in which the Environment Agency is providing two years of funding for a programme of activities (2012 to 2014) (Groundwork North East 2013a) The Living Waterways project has been evaluated by Groundwork based on an Environment Agency three-year funded programme of activities with local communities (Groundwork North East 2013b).
These are examples of Environment Agency ‘working through others’.
Research has been undertaken by TNS (2013) on community engagement and on ‘involving the community through volunteering’ by Langridge Countryside Consulting (2009) and on ‘developing the flood warden network’ (Glen and Langridge 2012).
It is not clear to what extent community engagement staff and Area and national staff in the Environment Agency who are making decisions about volunteering are aware of all this research and its findings. Are learning and insights from what has been studied so far being cascaded through the organisation? This is a key issue as the Environment Agency has commissioned a range of research in recent years applicable to community engagement and volunteering.
5.2.3 Statistics on volunteering
Data from the 2008 to 2009 DCLG citizenship survey in England 8 shows that:
• 42% of those undertaking formal volunteering (that is, undertaking unpaid work through a group, club or organisation) were female and 38% male • 42% of formal volunteers were white adults and 34% from minority ethnic groups
• the 35–49 age group is most likely to volunteer as are those of higher socioeconomic status These national statistics differ from the results identified in this study. For example, those in this study were more likely to be male, older and less ethnically diverse.
However, 60% of flood wardens in this survey were rural based and this will tend to have an impact on the age and ethnic diversity of volunteers.
http://www.ivr.org.uk/ivr-volunteering-stats#other [accessed 1 December 2013] Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering 5.2.4 Community and stakeholder mapping Understanding communities and stakeholders in very important when trying to engage them in FCRM volunteering or working in partnership to facilitate volunteering. It is important to start this process by mapping the communities, interest groups and stakeholders associated with a particular place (for example, a flood risk area) or those associated with a particular interest/issue (for example, those who want to develop skills on flood issues to aid them in future employment).
Mapping can be done through a brainstorming exercise in which Environment Agency staff can begin to identify local community, public agencies, landowners, businesses, non-governmental organisations and so on. Once communities and stakeholders have been identified, it is important to consider how and when to involve them and this should be based on the objectives of engagement for the Environment Agency and any partner organisations it is working with.
The method of engagement is also crucial as well as the issue of signposting communities and stakeholders to relevant information and support they may need before they decide to engage with FCRM volunteering.
The Environment Agency has guidance on building trust with others and working with others to assist staff with approaches to stakeholder engagement planning.
5.3 Prototype evaluation framework A prototype evaluation framework was developed during Work Package 2 of this project (Environment Agency 2015b). The framework consists of a set of evaluation criteria and associated indicators (input, output, outcome and process), and a set of evaluation methods and protocols. The framework is intended as a resource that can be used by the Environment Agency to evaluate FCRM volunteering initiatives and to identify success factors and areas for potential improvement.
The primary data collection phase of the project reported here provided an opportunity to apply, test and provide a reflective commentary on the prototype evaluation framework. As stated above, the framework is intended as a resource which can be selected from and used to structure evaluations of specific FCRM volunteering initiatives. As a resource, it is purposefully broad in scope, and is designed to be relevant to a potentially wide range of governance and delivery approaches and to a wide range of potential outcomes. It is unlikely that all the evaluation criteria and indicators identified would be relevant for a given initiative. The logic informing both the design and the application of the framework is to start with the objectives of an initiative as a basis for selecting relevant evaluation criteria and indicators. This then enables the selection of appropriate data collection methods.
In terms of the case studies presented in this report, it was difficult to tailor the application of the framework to each case precisely because a clear and comprehensive statement of objectives was lacking. While the general objectives of community protection from flood risk and building community preparedness and resilience were clear – and indeed are likely to be relevant to most, if not all, FCRM volunteering initiatives – the case study work highlighted the problem that specific objectives may not always be clearly articulated. This is problematic in terms of evaluation because it restricts the ability to tailor evaluation design effectively, but it is also potentially limiting in terms of the design of initiatives because needs and desired outcomes are not made explicit and therefore cannot be used to inform the design process. This highlights an opportunity for the Environment Agency to be more strategic about what it is trying to achieve through FCRM volunteering and to work proactively with communities and stakeholders to understand their needs and goals. A 80 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering more strategic and proactive approach will also help to inform initiative design and make sure that the collection of evaluative evidence is targeted and therefore more useful to the organisation.
Specific reflections on the evaluation criteria and indicators, and on the evaluation methods set out in the framework, are outlined in Sections 5.3.1 and 5.3.2 respectively.
5.3.1 Outcome categories, criteria and indicators The prototype evaluation framework is structured around a number of so-called outcome categories under which evaluation criteria (expressed as questions) and indicators are grouped. These are: social capital, natural capital, human capital, economic capital, individual well-being, inequalities, behaviour change, retention and reduced flood risk. The primary data collection reported here was structured around these categories, and related criteria and indicators. Data collection and the analysis of evidence gathered for each of the categories provides an opportunity to reflect critically on their utility and relevance that can help to inform discussions about any future evaluations of FCRM volunteering initiatives.
Social capital This proved to be a highly relevant evaluation category. Respondents recognised the
value of their activities in terms of:
• doing something useful in their community
• increasing sense of trust in the Environment Agency and other agencies
• forging closer ties and bonds within communities