«Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering Report – SC120013/R3 We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve ...»
• field visits and face-to-face interviews with key people from the volunteer groups and stakeholders identified
• telephone interviews with volunteers and stakeholders not available during field visits
The four case studies were:
• Cornwall Community Flood Forum and Local Flood Groups
4.1.1 Survey responses Results from the volunteer survey showed that 49% of volunteers had been volunteering for 5 years and 18% for 2–5 years. A further 20% of the sample had started FCRM volunteering over the past year. The length of volunteering service disaggregated by volunteering governance types is shown in Figure 4.1. More of those volunteering for 5 years were volunteering directly for the Environment Agency.
number of volunteers
Figure 4.1 Length of volunteering by governance type (n = 63)
In answer to the question ‘when did you last experience flooding in your community’:
• eight respondents mentioned flooding that occurred before 2005 • 77% of respondents had experienced flooding in their community since • 33% of respondents were last flooded in 2007, 25% in 2013 and 17% in Note that percentages may not always add up to 100% as not everyone answered all the questions.
Of the respondents in the volunteer survey, 60% said they had homes at risk from flooding and 32% did not.
A summary of the time volunteers spend engaged in activities is shown in Figure 4.2.
The majority of volunteers (64%) spent 1–5 hours per month volunteering and 24% Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering spent 6–10 hours. There was a significant proportion (9%) spending more than 20 hours a month on their volunteering work.
A cross-tabulation between hours spent volunteering and the last time the community was flooded showed that those volunteers living in areas most recently flooded in 2007, 2012 and 2013 were putting in the most time:
• 5–10% of those volunteers reported more than 20 hours volunteering per month • 40–50% of those volunteers were doing more than 6 hours per month A cross-tabulation between hours spent volunteering with whether a volunteer was at risk from flooding did not show any association, that is, those volunteers whose homes were at risk from flooding were not spending more time volunteering than those whose homes were not at risk of flooding but were part of a community at flood risk.
number of volunteers
Figure 4.2 Hours per month spent volunteering (n = 63) When asked if they wanted or could you do more volunteering, nearly half the respondents (48%) indicated they were willing or wanted to do more.
However, a number of respondents commented that they felt they were already doing as much as they could as this was not the only volunteering role they had. As one respondent
‘I have other voluntary activities besides flooding and I am probably operating at full stretch.’ When looking at which organisations respondents volunteer for, 35% said directly for the Environment Agency, 38% were working for community flood action groups and 13% for town and parish councils. The remainder were engaged with partnerships that involved the Environment Agency, or volunteered for charities such as a Wildlife Trust.
10 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering 4.1.2 Diary responses In a flood warden diary interview, one flood warden in North Yorkshire who had been a parish councillor for 28 years, was asked by the Environment Agency, with another person, to get involved in their area as flood wardens. He described attending a couple of seminars run by the Environment Agency when he started and looking at the Environment Agency website.
Two flood wardens in Hertfordshire, whose property was flooded in 1979, became flood wardens in 1994. Since then, in 2004, flood gates have been installed in their area and this has reduced the severity of flooding. They have less contact with the Environment Agency (‘who have been super with us’) now they have flood defences in place.
A flood warden in South Yorkshire became involved in 2007 when his house flooded and he had to live elsewhere for eight months. He described becoming very frustrated when trying to get support, outlining that organisations including the Environment Agency were unhelpful. However, he said the findings from the Pitt Review (Pitt 2007) helped a lot as it recommended the need to work with communities.
Most of the flood wardens interviewed about their diaries had been to one or more of the annual seminars the Environment Agency organises in some of its Areas to bring flood wardens together. Other organisations are usually represented at these seminars such as Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), local authorities and the emergency services.
The seminars provide an opportunity for the Environment Agency to provide information to flood wardens and sometimes show them an incident room. It is also a chance for flood wardens to talk to each other and about what they have been doing.
A couple of the flood wardens had been asked to give talks to other communities and advise on how to set up a flood group or to create a flood plan.
One flood warden talked about how his group have created:
‘grab bags’ for all the flood wardens in the group which includes wind-up chargers, waterproof cameras, wind-up phone, protective gloves, first aid kit, safety wellingtons’.
This was all funded from the South Yorkshire Flood Fund after flooding in 2007. Only one of the five flood warden diary interviewees who was from West Yorkshire had not experienced flooding. He explained that he was in a rapid response catchment but lived in a third floor flat. He became a flood warden in 2008; he put himself forward after working for the local authority and felt he had all the right contacts within the local authority and the Environment Agency. He received a pack from the Environment Agency when he started and finds it easier now there is only one emergency number he has to ring. He also spoke about getting assistance from the Environment Agency to write a community flood plan. After major flooding in 2012 he explained that the council set up weekly meetings attended by the Environment Agency and the emergency services to assess whether communities had the right cleaning materials and were getting on top of the recovery process. Infrastructure had now been put in place to reduce flood incidents in his village.
4.2 Who volunteers to be a flood warden?
The sociodemographic characteristics of the volunteers was investigated using data from the volunteer survey (n = 63) and from the volunteer returns to the VfM analysis collected during the case studies (n = 26). The sample size for this part of the analysis
was therefore 89. The following patterns were revealed:
• Gender – 72% of respondents were male Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering
• Age – 84% of the sample were older than 54 and 14% were over 75
• Ethnicity – 97% were White British (Black British and Jewish were also represented)
• Employment status – 68.25% were retired and 14% worked full time
• Disability – 11% said they considered themselves to have a disability (mostly mobility issues)
• Location – 63.5% were from rural areas and 36.5% from urban areas The volunteer survey and the case studies revealed that a large proportion of volunteers have professional experience as engineers, civil engineers, landscape architects, Environment Agency/Defra and other agency staff, and members of the services and emergency services (Figure 4.3). FCRM appears to attract people skilled in this area who are able to apply their professional knowledge for community benefit.
This is also evidenced by the reasons given as motivations for FCRM volunteering reported below.
Figure 4.3 Occupation of volunteers involved in FCRM volunteering (n = 89) Men were more likely than women to be engaged directly by the Environment Agency, whereas women were more likely to be working ‘through others’ or in ‘partnership’ arrangements (Figure 4.
Four out of the five flood wardens interviewed about their diaries were retired and four out of the five were men. The interviewees were based in west, north and south Yorkshire, Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire. No other specific demographic detail was collected on these five interviewees.
Based on the evidence from the survey, a typical FCRM volunteer can be characterised as an older (54–70), white British male, retired and with professional expertise in engineering (one in five chance) living in a rural area with a home or community at a high risk from flooding.
Volunteers were asked about the range of activities they were undertaking. More than 25 different kinds of activities were recorded. Most volunteers engaged in three or more activities. The full range of activities recorded is shown in Figure 4.5.
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Figure 4.5 Volunteer activities (n = 63) The data concerning the range of tasks do not provide a clear picture of which activities volunteers spend most of their time and efforts on. Volunteers were then asked ‘What would you say is your MAIN volunteering activity – the one you spend the most amount of time on? Please select one activity’. These data are summarised in Figure 4.6.
Although these responses accounted for 47% of all the activities mentioned in terms of count data (that is, the numbers of volunteers engaged), they relate to a greater percentage of the total time spent on volunteering. Monitoring river and tide levels is the most common activity (knowledge activities), with participation in the work of community flood action groups and forums, and working to pass on flood warnings within the community also significant (campaign activities). Other activities volunteers
are involved with were very varied and included:
• developing social media tools to alert community to flood risk in real time (one response)
• designing and constructing engineering solutions to flooding problems (two responses)
• taking an active part in the local planning system to ensure flooding issues are considered (one response)
Figure 4.6 Top five volunteering activities (n = 63) Figure 4.
7 diagram uses the top five ‘main activities’ data to show the differences in activities carried out according to governance type. Those volunteers ‘working through others’ were not carrying out the types of activities identified as the top five activities.
The three most popular activities volunteers would take on in addition to those already
• working to develop a community flood and emergency plan (53%)
• monitoring river levels (47%)
• habitat management (36%) 4.3.1 Types of activities The flood warden volunteer diaries provided greater detail of the types of activities that flood wardens were carrying out; see (Appendix C provides an example of a flood warden diary).
The types of activities carried out by flood wardens in relation to the activity categorisation flood wardens are described below.
Campaign activities The volunteer diaries outlined three important areas of activity relating to raising
awareness and flood planning:
• Discussions with members of the local community. These activities involved providing advice on insurance cover to new residents, reassuring residents during a flooding incident (particularly the elderly) and discussing flood issues with residents.
• Attending meetings of parish councils or open days or seminars, or annual meetings organised by the Environment Agency or local authority
• Being particularly pro-active by preparing reports on flooding incidents, developing flood plans, giving presentations to flood groups or the parish council, participating in a local TV slots on flooding (one flood warden gave six TV interviews in 2012 when his village faced flooding, including to Sky News and Look North), helping to arrange exhibitions or helping other flood groups to develop a flood plan The development of flood plans by flood wardens, town and parish councils is a priority for the Environment Agency. However, volunteers can find this difficult and timeconsuming – see comments from the Cornwall case study (Section 4.8.3).
Physical action The majority of this activity was performed by the Bodenham Flood Protection Group.
Only two other flood wardens in their diaries mentioned getting involved in physical action and this included placing sandbags and re-directing traffic away from flooded roads.
• Clearance – for example clearing silt, shrubbery, debris from culverts, drains, channels and the banks of rivers/brooks
• Filling sandbags and or placing them around key places in the community 16 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Knowledge actions
These could be categorised into two main groups:
• Monitoring. Most of the flood wardens were undertaking monitoring on a regular basis. This included monitoring and inspecting river/brook levels, sea defences, state of drains, pipes, culverts, sea defences, the build-up of shrubbery/debris, weather and tidal information, and checking flood defences to ensure flood gates are shut and locked.
• Research. Three flood wardens had taken part in previous research. This included research by the Red Cross, research by Lancaster University and the Cabinet Office, and a four-year EU-funded research project called ‘WeSenseIt’ about citizen water observatories. This EU project is using Doncaster as a case study and citizens will be working with smart phones to provide data on flooding in their areas. A number of volunteers talked about researching the history of flooding in their area so that they had a better idea and understanding of what had led to the current flooding issues their communities faced.
These could be categorised into three groups: