«Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering Report – SC120013/R3 We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve ...»
• Using a computer to access and assess up-to-date information from websites such as the Environment Agency, Met Office or the local authority.
This activity was common among flood wardens.
• Using Facebook and/or Twitter to provide information to local people and as a means for local people to contact the flood warden. Only two of the flood wardens, both based in Lincolnshire, took this approach (the case studies in Section 4.8 show that others were being active using social media). In the case of Bodenham, this also includes sending flood warnings directly from the flood action group’s telemetry systems via Twitter.
• Using a computer to lobby MPs, the Association of British Insurers, funding agencies, landowners and other stakeholders about local flooding issues and infrastructure or catchment management improvements 4.4 What motivates volunteers to get involved and what benefits do they gain?
4.4.1 Motivations The most important reported reasons in the volunteer survey for beginning volunteering
were associated with wanting to:
• do something to prevent flooding (40%)
• help the community as a consequence of flooding experiences (17.5%)
• take on some kind of leadership role in community response and awareness (21%) Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering The variety of reasons was most diverse among those volunteers engaging directly with the Environment Agency (Figure 4.8).
Figure 4.8 Reasons for starting volunteering disaggregated by governance type (n = 63) When asked why they continued to volunteer, respondents mentioned the following as
the three most important motivations (Figure 4.9):
• altruistic reasons related to serving their community (33%)
• the continuing need for risk mitigation through flooding infrastructure improvements and maintenance (30%)
• ongoing need to maintain community preparedness (19%)
The level of commitment to FCRM volunteering in the future was high with:
• 44% of volunteers expecting to carry on with their volunteering role beyond the next five years • 42% of respondents expecting to carry on for 2–5 years
Human capital In general terms, FCRM volunteering makes a significant difference to people’s understanding and ability to deal with flooding and flood risk. The impacts that their volunteering experience has had on individual volunteers in terms of their knowledge of flood risk and resilience to flooding is summarised in Figure 4.10.
Figure 4.10 Changes to individual volunteer knowledge and resilience to flooding (n = 63) Overall, respondents reported positive increases across all the measures of change.
There were no negative comments on these measures. Notable are the reported 87% change in understanding of community flood risk and 82% change in individuals’ knowledge of which agencies are responsible for flood risk issues. There is a reported change in volunteers understanding the level of their personal flood risk (75%), of what they can do to reduce their flood risk (63%), and what they can do to recover from flooding (59%).
The flood warden diary interviews described learning more about flooding and flood risk in their area and some took a very active approach to learning the history of flooding in their area to put the contemporary risk within a wider context.
Social capital Figure 4.11 shows the most significant perceived impacts for volunteers in terms of
social capital were:
20 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering
• doing something useful in their community
• increasing sense of trust in the Environment Agency and similar agencies
• meeting new people in the community Figure 4.11 Social capital impacts of volunteering (n = 63) Those interviewed about their volunteer diaries gained benefits from knowing they were helping their local community, and caring about the place they live in. They knew their area and were interested in being a visible presence when an incident was occurring.
Being part of a small core team was important to one flood warden.
For two flood wardens in Hertfordshire, knowing who to contact was important (‘I do know that if I was worried I could always phone’) as well as getting to know their neighbours by being a warden and knocking on doors. They talked to neighbours about insurance and the Environment Agency provided a letter for them to be given to insurance companies to reassure them about the level of risk for their properties.
Building trust and relationships with organisations such as the Environment Agency were also considered important.
‘We have an excellent relationship with Environment Agency, no faults at all. Since the defence scheme went in we have been working with the Environment Agency trying to get the warning system better, looking at the monitoring and the alarm level. We’ve been feeding them information about levels. We worked with the Environment Agency to see what was causing the flooding, and now I am much happier that they have a better understanding of how the system works’ (flood wardens, Hertfordshire).
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Individual well-being In terms of individual benefits and well-being, the volunteer survey showed that employability ranked low (unsurprising as the majority of the sample were retired) (Figure 4.12).
The most significant areas of impact were improvements to:
• individual skills and knowledge (70%)
• sense of feeling they are making a positive difference to the local environment (68%)
• sense of connection to the local environment (63%) However, there were also felt to be disadvantages to volunteering. In particular a small proportion of the sample (5%) felt that their physical health and fitness had decreased as a result of volunteering, and that their happiness and well-being had been negatively affected (4%).
Figure 4.12 Perceived well-being benefits of volunteering (n = 63) Volunteers’ satisfaction with their volunteering was lower for those who volunteered for themselves and directly for the Environment Agency (Figure 4.
13). However, the analysis of the ‘through others’ category needs to be treated with caution here as only two people answered these two questions (for Figure 4.13 and Figure 4.14).
Volunteers’ sense of feeling that they were valued by the community was slightly greater for those volunteering ‘for themselves’ or in ‘partnership’ rather than for the Environment Agency directly (Figure 4.14).
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Figure 4.14 Do volunteers feel valued by their communities – comparison across governance types (n = 63) Those who had been volunteering the longest were the most satisfied with what they were doing. Those new to volunteering included the widest variety of responses as they ‘learnt’ about the volunteering task and role (Figure 4.15).
The flood warden diary interviewees did not say anything explicit about gaining individual well-being benefits from their activities. However, there was a strong view about gaining personal satisfaction from helping their communities and neighbours.
Figure 4.15 Are volunteers satisfied with their volunteering experience – compared by length of volunteering service (n = 63) 4.
5 Guidance and support The different kinds of support given to volunteers is summarised in Figure 4.16.
Nearly all volunteers had been provided with information and leaflets to enable them to carry out their role and provide more information about flood risk. However, nine volunteers (14%) mentioned that they had received no support at all.
After leaflets and information, equipment for flood risk management, flood warden activities and infrastructure improvement, along with help with organising annual events for volunteers and communities to maintain enthusiasm and commitment to FCRM work, and flood warden induction were the next most common forms of support.
Training given to volunteers varied from health and safety awareness, emergency protocols, emergency planning, visits to Environment Agency offices and incident rooms, operation of Environment Agency assets (for example, pumps, mobile pumps), and social learning through exchange visits with other community flood action groups.
numbers of volunteers 4.6 What is the value for money of FCRM volunteering (economic capital)?
The term ‘economic capital’ to denote the wide range of economic benefits that accrue from volunteering rather than the more limited set of financial benefits. While financial benefits relate to the money spent and outputs produced, economic benefits may be tangible and intangible, and relate to outputs and outcomes.
4.6.1 Value for money by governance type A comparison of all the value for money measures between different types of volunteering by governance type is presented in Figure 4.17, Figure 4.18 and Figure
4.19 for relevance, effectiveness and efficiency respectively.
These data calculate the average scores assigned by each stakeholder group (Environment Agency staff and Environment Agency FCRM managers, partner organisations and volunteers) to each of the governance types. The ‘FCRM managers’ category included national and regional level FCRM roles, and one partnership development team representative. The ‘Environment Agency staff’ category focused on Area and local level staff.
The scale against which scores were assigned ran from -2 (Strongly disagree) to + 2 (Strongly agree), with ‘Neither agree nor disagree’ being neutral.
The data are presented as mean values as the best way to account for unequal sample sizes between stakeholder and governance groups.
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Questions were asked about meeting volunteering or organisational objectives. Where the results refer to national level objectives, these refer to the Environment Agency’s objectives. In other cases the evidence refers to respondents’ organisational or individual objectives.
The main points to be drawn from the analyses are summarised below.
Relevant measures Volunteering ‘for themselves’ scored consistently higher for all measures compared with other governance styles, most particularly for achieving Environment Agency national level objectives (0.83) and meeting the shared objectives of partners and volunteers (1.67) (Figure 4.17).
Stakeholders felt that volunteering makes a significant positive contribution to flooding with ‘for themselves’ (1.45) and ‘in partnership’ (1.33) scoring highly, volunteering ‘directly for the Environment Agency’ (1.13) slightly lower, and the lowest score awarded for ‘through others’ (0.89).
Volunteering ‘for themselves’ (1.4) and ‘through others’ (1.36) both scored highly on achieving local level objectives.
Lower scores were awarded against the criteria ‘meeting volunteer expectations’ on all the volunteering types, although volunteering ‘direct for the Environment Agency’ (0.33) scored the lowest.
Volunteering ‘direct for Environment Agency’ had lower scores than other forms of volunteering against most relevance measures but did better in terms of adding value to the activities of the organisation (1.45).
Figure 4.17 Average scores for relevance VfM measures between governance types(n = 111) 26 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Effectiveness criteria Volunteering ‘for themselves’ scored most highly for the range of effectiveness measures.
The greatest positive difference compared with other forms of volunteering was for building community resilience (Figure 4.18).
Figure 4.18 Average scores for effectiveness VfM measures between governance types (n = 111) Efficiency criteria In this case the results are more variable.
Volunteering ‘direct for Environment Agency’ scored highly (1.36) against the criteria ‘volunteering fits in with lifestyle and organisational working culture’, with working ‘through others’ a close second (1.20).
Working ‘through others’ achieved the highest scores for volunteer management (1.03) and recruitment (1.08) (Figure 4.19).
Looking at how well volunteering balanced inputs with outputs, there was little difference between the volunteering types, although ‘in partnership’ scored highest (1.10) closely followed by ‘working through others’ (1.03).
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Figure 4.19 Average scores for efficiency VfM measures between governance types (n = 111) Summary of VfM by governance type 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. On the whole:
• the relevance measure of value for money was best met by volunteering carried out ‘for themselves’
• the effectiveness measure of value for money showed less variation between governance types, although volunteering ‘through others’ scored lowest against building community resilience to flooding
• the efficiency measure of value for money was best met by volunteering ‘through others’, although volunteering ‘direct for Environment Agency’ fitted in best with volunteers’ lifestyles and organisation/agencies’ working cultures 4.6.2 Perceptions of different stakeholders Disaggregating the data to allow comparisons of the perceptions of different stakeholders (Environment Agency staff and FCRM managers, partner organisations and volunteers) provided a different analysis. This was done for two forms of volunteer governance: ‘Direct for Environment Agency’ and ‘for themselves’. The analysis was limited to these two volunteering types because of the small sub-sample sizes associated with the data when they are arranged this way.
28 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Volunteering ‘directly for Environment Agency’ Looking at differences in perception around volunteering ‘direct for Environment Agency’ (n = 39) the following points emerge.
In terms of relevance measures (Figure 4.20):