Exploring Society’s Pursuit for Climate Resilience

JBA Consulting’s Phil Emonson’s reflects on last month’s Flood and Coast workshop collaboration with Communities Prepared and on wider societal resilience to climate change.

The Flood and Coast Conference took place on 6th-8th June 2023 in Telford.

With ‘whole of society’ resilience now a national government ambition, and reflecting on JBA’s own vision to ‘lead in society’s pursuit for resilience to climate change’, it was with huge pleasure that I delivered a workshop on societal resilience with colleagues from Communities Prepared at the recent CIWEM Flood & Coast conference.  Delegates were given the opportunity to explore what societal resilience to climate change is and how those of us who work in flood, water and environmental management can contribute to it. 

Risk Management Authorities have the opportunity to help raise awareness of local risks amongst the community, support adaptation strategies, help improve planning, training and exercising at a local level to improve response capabilities, and support effective and appropriate incident recovery.  To do this there a number of questions that need considering when embarking on flood, water and environmental management schemes, such as:

  • What are the demographics of the community in question, and what is the most effective engagement strategy for them?
  • What FCRM activities can communities be involved in?
  • What are the challenges and benefits arising?
  • How can resilience to climate change be made sustainable, and what should ‘active’ resilience look like?

The Flood & Coast workshop reconfirmed that every community is different, and so we can’t rely on a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  To effectively build societal resilience to climate change a greater portfolio of tools and resources needs to be available locally to engage different demographic groups. 

JBA Consulting and Communities Prepared have combined expertise in emergency management, community resilience and wider community development.  We have recently launched a joint offer specifically for local authorities in establishing and sustaining climate change resilience in local communities.  Such support is tailored, and is of particular relevance to projects in Defra’s Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme (FCRIP).  We aim to ensure local communities develop resilience to climate change and for the approach to be effective and adaptive to change whilst connecting individuals and groups.  Services and support include:

  • Supporting the community in sharing concerns and understanding responsibilities
  • Considering ways to engage deeply with the community
  • Mapping the risks and opportunities which exist locally
  • Identifying risks and providing training in these emergencies
  • Embedding non-technical skills in emergency planning, response and recovery
  • Emergency response tabletop exercises and debriefing
  • Community emergency plan co-development and review
  • Communication and education campaigns

In December 2022, the UK government published the National Resilience Framework, officially making resilience a national endeavour. Emergencies in recent years such as the Covid-19 pandemic, flooding and drought, have put the spotlight on how the UK prepares and responds to threats.  The Framework articulates the plans to strengthen the systems and capabilities that underpin the UK’s resilience to all civil contingency risks, with a priority to give greater transparency on the risks we face and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. 

There are three core principles to the Framework:

1. a developed and shared understanding of the risks we face,

2. a greater emphasis on preparation and prevention, and

3. ensuring resilience is a ‘whole of society’ endeavour. 

In the case of our changing climate, there is little that can be done to prevent the risks (such as coastal erosion, sea level rise, flooding, and warmer summers leading to more drought) and so a focus on adaptation is appropriate. At JBA, our resilience framework seeks therefore to promote adaptation. 

JBA Consulting is part of the JBA family of environmental, engineering and risk management companies. They work collaboratively across disciplines combining analytical, engineering, social and nature-inspired solutions, supporting their clients to adapt and build resilience to climate change both in the UK and worldwide. Read more about their work on their website.

If you would like more information on this workshop and its contents please contact either Phil Emonson of JBA Consulting or Communities Prepared Programme Manager Hannah Baker.

The flood-drought continuum and why it is important to prepare across water risks

DRY Project lead Professor Lindsey McEwen explains the flood-drought continuum and its value when considering community resilience in a guest blog.

Two images from the DRY picture book (Luci Gorell Barnes, 2019, digital collage)

What is the flood-drought continuum?

Floods and droughts sit at either end of a hydrological continuum and both risks affect the UK.  Flooding is complex and often compound, combining the different types of river flooding, surface runoff, tides/surges on coasts and groundwater, in the UK this can also include flash flooding in rapid response catchments and surface water flooding affecting urban areas. Drought can be defined in different ways: meteorological drought when there are extended periods without rainfall; agricultural (or soil moisture) drought with effects on, for example, grassland and crop growth; hydrological drought when rivers or other waterbodies become low; and finally full-blown water supply drought.

Both floods and droughts are set to increase under climate change scenarios in the UK (IPCC, 2022). It is possible to have floods during periods of underlying drought and drought conditions persisting after flooding. Indeed, dry periods leading to hard compacted soils can increase flood problems, with water running off quickly into water courses. Storm water flushing pollutants – heavy metals and bacteria – off roads and pavements after long periods of dryness can cause pollution in rivers impacting use by people, pets and nature. 

Despite this, statutory responsibilities for managing flood and drought risk tend to sit within different departments or organisations.

What are its implications for community engagement?

It is increasingly important to engage communities about both floods and droughts, but this brings challenges for several reasons.

These extreme weather risks are experienced by communities in very different ways. Floods are visible and emotive risks while droughts tend to be hidden and diffuse – at least in their early stages. Floods tend to be more strongly on people’s radar, while emerging droughts may only be noticed by certain members of the community. Those who grow crops, such as gardeners, allotment holders and farmers, are likely to notice lack of rainfall and dry soils, while those who engage with rivers for sport and recreation, such as fishermen and canoeists, are more likely to notice low water levels. Many others will not be aware of drought until the water supply is interrupted. In addition, the public can associate drought positively with heat and warm sunny days when in fact it can continue over dry winters as well. As an additional challenge, every drought is different.

The DRY Z-cards – ‘Water, drought and you’

In addition, the idea that floods and droughts might occur at the same time is hard for people to engage with. This is partly because of the myth of infinite water and green land in the UK. It is also because water deficits take a long time to recover; one fall of heavy rainfall does not end a drought. It is also important to match communications about risk to the weather conditions at the time.  Communicating about drought when it is raining tends not to work.

How does thinking about water risks together help communities preparing for climate resilience?

There are valuable opportunities to think about water risk more holistically. A community that is resilient to one risk is already likely to be more resilient to another, so it is more effective to build broader resilience within communities beyond a resilience to flooding.  Below are examples of how existing approaches to managing risk can be combined or joined-up.  

Some people are the ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground for weather and its impacts in communities – such as weather wardens or citizen scientists recording rainfall or monitoring the river. These can have valuable local knowledge of relative dryness and wetness and change in their locale. 

The same community networks that share information and skills about ‘how to prepare’ for one type of extreme weather risk can be used for another, for example, floods, drought (or heat, snow etc). These networks can support community training to prepare, respond and adapt to other extreme weather risks and hazards.  

Local networks also include volunteers providing mutual aid locally to support more vulnerable groups in communities. There are overlaps in groups likely to be socially vulnerable and exposed to floods and droughts by age, gender, income and disability.

Some of the specific measures used in adapting to floods can also help prepare for droughts and wider climate resilience. For example, installation of water butts in households helps to store water locally. In some settings like Hull, this distributed way of collecting water is being trialled as a flood mitigation method that also stores water for watering gardens in dry periods.

Similarly, on a broader neighbourhood scale, Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) within communities help slow the flow to local water courses and deal with rainfall as close to its source as possible. Involving the public in the care and maintenance of SuDS schemes is important (see CIRIA animation – ‘Ever wonder where the rain goes?’). 

‘Thinking about water risks together’ involves “thinking about water as a valuable resource” which can feel hard when there is too much water in the wrong place at the wrong time during flooding.  In building climate resilience, we all need to think about how we value, and live with and without water. This will need communities prepared to recognise that water is at the same time “fragile, precious and dangerous” (United Nations Panel on Water).

Further Resources

The DRY Utility website has resources to support learning about UK drought – for schools and communities like Z cards and a primary school book.  It also provides information on ‘Communicating drought’.

About the author

Lindsey McEwen is Professor of Environmental Management and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.  Her research focuses on water risk management, working in community settings.  She was lead on the 5-year Natural Environment Research Council funded DRY (Drought Risk and You) project.

Engaging in the planning system can help build communities that are safer from the risks of flooding

This guest blog has been written by Celia Davis, Projects & Policy Manager at the Town and Country Planning Association and Heather Shepherd, Community and Recovery Support, National Flood Forum.

The experience and risk of flooding is already a difficult reality for many people in England, and will become more common in future as a result of climate change. After experiencing flooding, people often become more conscious of their local environment, and sensitive to changes that might increase the risk of flooding. New development is one of those changes that communities may become more aware of.planning system plays a major role in directing where new development will go and how it will be built, and these decisions are crucial to reducing the risk of flooding, both now and in the future.

The planning system should act as a vital safeguard against the risk of flooding by making sure that development is not inappropriately located, or badly designed, so that existing and new communities are not exposed to the risk of flooding.

However, with local authorities under significant pressure to find land for housing, and local authority planning services in a crisis of under-resourcing, new development that is located in flood risk areas, or does not go far enough to reduce the risk of flooding, is still happening. To add to this, the impacts of climate change, which will significantly increase flood risk in the UK, are often underplayed, misunderstood, or ignored. It is frustrating and demoralising to see decisions being taken that do not help to solve these problems – and, in some cases, actively make them worse.

Local communities have unique knowledge of the flood risk in their area, as well as the drive to tackle climate change and create a positive future for the next generation. It is therefore vital for people to get involved in local decisions.

Many people feel locked out of key decisions because the planning system is complex, hard to navigate, and the technical language is off putting. But communities can shape a better future for their area in a number of ways: by sharing expertise, working together on a shared plan for their local area, and by making sure decision makers are properly considering future flood risk when they look at the location and design of new places.

The TCPA are working with the National Flood Forum to help people navigate the planning system, so they feel more confident and empowered to have a voice in the decisions that might affect them.

Our short briefing notes provide a great resource for people who do not have experience of the planning system but are worried about the flood risk where they live.

We are also holding two workshops (in Birmingham and London) to give an overview of the planning system and greater understanding of its role in addressing flood risk, and how communities can influence development in their area.

We want to make sure that people are not put off by the details of the planning system, and feel confident to have their say and make their neighbourhoods better and safer places to live.

The TCPA and National Flood Forum are grateful to Flood Re for their generous support of this work.

Link to workshops:

Our workshops will be held on:

  • 30th November, 6.30-8.30pm, The Priory Rooms, Birmingham, B4 6AF. Register here.
  • 5th December, 5-7pm, TPCA Offices, 17 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AS. Register here.

Link to resources:

The TCPA and the National Flood Forum have produced a guide for communities on the planning system and flood risk which is available here:


Community resilience is vital for future heatwaves

Why does community resilience matter in a heatwave? Nick Drew, senior project officer on Communities Prepared, explains.

“What a scorcher!”

The UK has just had its hottest day ever, breaking 40 degrees Celsius for the first time. And while some see this as an opportunity to flock to the beach, there is a more serious side. Heat is deadly – the 2003 heatwave in Europe led to more than 20,000 deaths – often of elderly people in housing that wasn’t built for the extreme heat, and often living alone. We don’t yet know what the impact of the recent heatwave will be, but it’s likely there will be a spike in the numbers of people who lose their lives in July.

With climate change starting to bite, we are seeing increasingly severe weather events – and the Met Office projections show that instances of these events will continue to increase. In February, we had three named storms within the period of a week (Dudley, Eunice and Franklin), leaving flooding, power outages, and travel chaos in their wake. And whilst there is much we can do as individuals to respond to extreme weather events, it is when we come together as communities that we can really support the more vulnerable members of society. Therefore it is vital that communities become more resilient before the crisis hits.

Communities Prepared is a Groundwork programme, primarily funded by The National Lottery Reaching Communities Fund, that aims to support communities to do just that – building their capacity to work effectively with the Emergency Services when there is a major incident, but also in the emergency situations where communities are fending for themselves. It aims to equip community members to run their own Community Emergency Volunteer groups, through training and support from Groundwork’s Communities Prepared team.

The programme is unique in its offer thanks to its national, multi-issue community training and support focus. However Groundwork is just one organisation that is active in this space – and we bring our long expertise in community work, as outlined in our new report From the Ground Up, into a wider circle of organisations looking to develop community responses to emergencies. With that in mind, Communities Prepared is working with the multi-sector Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP) and the British Red Cross.

A table-top Heatwave Exercise, run by the VCSEP in April, showed the range of partners potentially involved in such emergencies. The exercise highlighted some of the challenges around sharing an understanding of at-risk community members, and also about the information flows that need to be in place to deal with the set of cascading events that can fall out of an extreme weather scenario.

“This is what Communities Prepared is all about – we act as the ‘glue’ between community level discussions and the wider range of potential stakeholders.”

There is a huge challenge in engagement and awareness raising, as well as upskilling individuals and community groups. And in this context, the five key ingredients in From The Ground Up are all ones that we recognise within Communities Prepared:

  • Longevity: the project has been running since a regional pilot in 2016, built on learning from other Groundwork projects before it, and has built up a reputation and recognition among a wide set of stakeholders and networks over this time. Some of these are local, but many of them are regional or national. For communities, this means they know who they need to talk to for support – and we complement this with a diverse training offer which not only provides technical content but focuses on the longer-term sustainability of volunteer groups too.
  • Hubs: we recognise the value of a physical space to act as a rallying point for communities, facilitating networking and other community activities, and have been exploring ways to incorporate this into community resilience building.
  • Mediators and Capacity Builders: this is what Communities Prepared is all about – we act as the ‘glue’ between community level discussions and the wider range of potential stakeholders – and we help the community to understand how best to interact with those stakeholders.
  • Variety and detail: We see community resilience as being part of a ‘whole of society’ response to the challenges that we all face. That means that everyone should be able to play a part – either as a long-term volunteer, or for a one-off task in response to a call for immediate help within their community. The challenges faced by a community are quite varied and not always easy to predict – so being able to deal with the unexpected is a key part of upskilling communities. And it’s why our focus is multi-issue; we encourage community volunteers to think about how they can support their community in a range of different situations, built on an understanding of their priorities and needs – which in turn helps to keep them motivated and engaged too.
  • Building the communities workforce: within the Communities Prepared team, we all have extensive experience of community working (and some lived experience of dealing with emergencies) but come from quite different backgrounds. It is this blend of experience that enables us to support communities to feel empowered to manage with the variety of challenges they face, and to take the programme forward against an ever-changing backdrop of government policy, emerging risks, and wider initiatives in the resilience world.

We believe that community resilience also has to be built “from the ground up” – and with the set of interconnected challenges that communities across the UK face, now is the time for Groundwork to be strategically focusing on how Communities Prepared can scale to meet those challenges. We hope you will join us on that journey.

Blog by Nick Drew, Senior Project Officer, Communities Prepared

Read From the Ground Up

Find out more about Communities Prepared

Stress awareness in incident management training

Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992, to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. This years’ theme is Community, largely because of the increased rates of loneliness and isolation that have emerged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this blog, Evie Whatling from JBA Consulting explores their recent work with the Environment Agency’s Wessex Area Incident team, to incorporate stress management into incident management training and exercising.

A community is much more than just a group of people. It’s about having a sense of belonging and connection to others and feeling supported and accepted by them. This is as true for where we live as it is for where we work. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to build or sustain these types of communities.

This community and loss of connection is something that is also extending to incident management arrangements. Virtual and hybrid incident management is likely to remain, and already we have identified that the risk of burnout has increased. There is a strong link that these burnout rates have increased because of loneliness and isolation, and burnout is a symptom of stress, and so an interconnected system emerges.

Stress is an inevitable component of incident management, there is no way of avoiding it – but being aware of the signs and adopting coping mechanisms can be very effective in managing stress. We have been working with the Environment Agency’s Wessex Area Incident Teams to work on addressing some of these emerging challenges, as part of our wider Incident Management Training and Exercising Framework.

How does stress management training work?

Stress management training needs to adapt and expand to ensure that we are not only helping to inform incident responders on what stress is and what can be done to help manage it. Stress management training now needs to include how we can try and adjust our virtual incident management operations to minimise these feelings of isolation and loneliness. This in turn extends to how we can mitigate burnout, and support stress from virtual environments. Stress management training can also explore what we can do to build a sense of community, internally and with partners agencies.

Our work with the Wessex Area Incident Teams is addressing some of these emerging challenges and providing tools to help incident responders.

Some key tools we focus on include:

  • Optimising how we communicate virtuallyEstablishing online etiquette to minimise information overload, and having responders consider specifically what output is wanted from information shared.
  • Prioritising breaks. It is easy in virtual arrangements to keep working through, forgetting that breaks now need to be planned for and can’t be ad hoc. Planning breaks and trying our hardest to stick to them is important to allow ourselves to decompress. Alongside this, breaks should be taken away from the ‘incident room’. Visually separating ourselves from where we are responding to the incident allows us to physiologically distance ourselves from the scene.
  • Team support. Have colleagues ready to stand in and enable breaks, as well as establish work rotations in place so we can switch between high stress activities to lower stress functions.
  • Establish buddy systems for mutual aid arrangements. This means establishing communication lines and teaming up someone from a different area with someone from the responding area to mitigate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Stress bucket tool and adapting this to have people identify stressors they can remove; stressors they can’t remove but can control; and finally, any stressors that can’t be controlled or removed, and so learning how to accept these stressors in the incident.
  • Mindapple tool. The premise of the tool is to have ‘1 of your 5 a day’, but this has been adapted to allow responders to: mark 5 things they can do for their wellbeing before the incident (i.e., update calendar, keep commitments to a minimum, have food in the fridge); 5 things that can help during the incident (i.e., take a break, do a grounding exercise); and 5 things to focus on after the incident (i.e., go for a walk, debrief, have a balanced meal).

We have received positive feedback from our training that will hopefully prove valuable during future incidents. Reflections on the training include:

‘I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable sometimes.’

‘The knowledge in that I won’t be thought less of for taking a break or asking for help as there can always be such a stigma around it when the stakes are high.’

‘The need to connect more with those I am working with despite the difficulties of hybrid working.’

‘Understanding who you are working with and to prioritise what you do.’

Having such training arrangements in place can help incident responders feel seen, understood, and supported.

The Communities Prepared team is currently working with Evie and colleagues at JBA to put together a shared training and exercise offer for communities – more information on this to come in due course. Thanks to JBA and Evie for giving us permission to share their blog here – you can find the original post on the JBA website.

Now is the time to BeFloodReady

By Molly Flynn, Community Flood Resilience Coordinator at Cornwall Community Flood Forum

BeFloodReady is a campaign launched by the Defra funded and Environment Agency supported Southwest Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Pathfinder Project. Property Flood Resilience, or PFR, is the term used to describe measures that help to reduce flood risk to people and property. Using PFR enables households and businesses to reduce the damage caused by floods, making the process of recovery and reoccupation easier. The aim of the overall project was to increase the awareness and uptake of PFR measures in both residential and commercial settings across the Southwest.

The project ran until September 2021, but the BeFloodReady campaign will ensure that it will have a long-lasting impact on residents, businesses and communities at flood risk beyond September. Various legacy materials and tools were produced throughout the duration of the project which we would like to share with you in this guest blog!

You may be familiar with the various training resources which Communities Prepared can offer to support community volunteers and community resilience professionals. The original volunteer flood warden training series was developed within one of 13 Defra funded flood resilience Pathfinder projects with the support of CCFF. Throughout the 1st phase of Communities Prepared, these resources were advanced and are now recognised nationally as an example of best practice. The BeFloodReady team were keen to bring together the knowledge, skills and experience of CCFF and Communities Prepared to develop a new ‘Understanding Property Flood Resilience’ guide. With input from Cornwall Council, Environment Agency, JBA Consulting and Devon Communities Together, this popular booklet can be accessed via the BeFloodReady website, or you can request a hard copy from CCFF. The purpose of this guide is to introduce Property Flood Resilience (PFR) and how it can be used to manage flood risk to homes and businesses.

To accompany the newly developed booklets, BeFloodReady created online awareness raising workshops which were held over summer 2021. These were open to individuals and communities across Devon & Cornwall and featured a short presentation covering topics such as Climate Change, Community Flood Groups and, of course, PFR. This presentation is free to view online by clicking here. A local flood risk consultant then provided a live demonstration of some of the various PFR measures which are on the market today. In Cornwall, over 33 different communities were represented at these workshops with feedback showing that all felt the content was relevant to them and their community; many many even said they would now consider installing PFR in their homes!

In Summer 2021, the SW PFR Pathfinder project launched a specially commissioned Aardman Animations short film – ‘BeFloodReady- Missy’s Tale’. Aardman Animations are the world famous, four times Academy Award® winning animation studio, creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts and Chicken Run, to name but a few. This excellent short film promotes the BeFloodReady brand for PFR. The film received 3,200 views on Aardman’s Twitter page alone in just the first 5 hours post release and will continue to be shared widely to raise awareness of flood risk and how PFR can help reduce the damage and stress caused by flooding. You can watch Missy’s Tale by clicking on the following link: BeFloodReady: Missy’s Tale by Aardman Animations – YouTube.

Molly Flynn is Cornwall Community Flood Forum’s (CCFF) Community Flood Resilience Coordinator. Molly has been with CCFF for over 2 and a half years after completing a BSc degree in Geography and MSc in Volcanology. Molly helps CCFF to raise flood risk awareness across Cornwall, support communities in becoming better prepared and promote a partnership approach to flood risk management and community engagement.

CCFF have been on the steering board and a project partner for Communities Prepared since its pilot phase in the South West of England. CCFF has also been a delivery partner in the Southwest Property Flood Resilience (PFR) Pathfinder Project, led by Cornwall Council on behalf of all the Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) in the Southwest Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (SWRFCC) region. As part of this project, the team have developed the ‘BeFloodReady’ brand to help provide information and guidance on PFR to individuals, businesses and communities in the Southwest.

Three reasons why our response to climate change needs to be local

By Luca Tiratelli, Senior Policy Researcher at New Local

Climate change is a global problem.

As a result, many devote their energies to looking for a global solution. The COP26 summit that we shall see on these shores next month is a testament to this.

Of course, international coordination has a role to play when it comes to addressing climate change. Indeed, it is through work at this level that we have the greatest chance of meaningfully curbing carbon emissions at the macro scale – which is vital to limiting the amount of warming we shall see this century.

However, while the greenhouse effect operates globally, the manifestations of climate change are locally specific. Whether we are talking about storms, droughts, crop failures or industrial changes – the actual challenges that are created by a changing climate are things that will affect different communities and places in different ways. As such, a substantial part of our response to climate change must be locally rooted.

New Local are currently running a research project exploring the potential of local and community led climate action on climate change – and we have identified three key characteristics of local action that make it an invaluable part of the overall climate policy picture. These are as follows:

Local Climate Action is Responsive

The public is clear that they see climate change as one of the biggest challenges of our era. They are also clear, however, that at present, the government is not doing enough to address it.

Clearly then, national policy is proving unresponsive to the demands of people on the ground for action. This is a problem, of course. However, there are other ways to channel public energy, into institutions that can be much more responsive to democratic demands. Local government offers a way of doing this.

The wave of councils declaring climate emergencies and setting ambitious targets for emissions reduction is evidence of increased responsivity of local levels of governance – and the embrace of local government of deliberative democracy (citizens assemblies) shows that it is at the local level that people’s voices can be heard.

Local Climate Action Has an Inherent Legitimacy

Global warming means that we will all have to change aspects of the way we live our lives. There are positive opportunities within this, but with change comes resistance.

When change is imposed in a top-down manner, there is potential for local priorities and specificities to be missed. This increases the chance that there will be pushback against the changes that we will need to see. The Gillet Jeune protests against fuel tax rises in France might be considered an example of what this looks like in reality.

Action that is negotiated and implemented at local levels can take into account local issues and work around them. This can ensure that peoples’ needs are met during a period of change – and thus embodies the spirit of a just transition.

Local Climate Action is Adaptive 

At the macro-scale, climate change is a slow-moving phenomenon. Global temperatures tick up slowly, and perhaps a key reason for the inertia that we’ve seen in terms of taking radical action against climate change is the fact that the problem is sometimes hard to feel tangibly.

However, at the local level, the effects of climate change can sometimes manifest in the form of incredibly urgent situations. Flash flooding, heatwaves and infrastructure failure are things that, when they happen, happen quickly. Adapting and responding to them requires local knowledge and has to draw on local resilience and networks. 

As such, climate change adaptation – be it emergency response, or the building of infrastructure – is something that is done best at the local level.

New Local is conducting a project to explore the potential of community-based climate action.

Drawing on their research into community power and the work of Elinor Ostrom, they are making the case for a more democratic and localised approach to climate change policy.

Find out more here: https://www.newlocal.org.uk/research-projects/communities-vs-climate/

Luca Tiratelli is a Senior Policy Researcher at New Local.

With less than 3 weeks to go we take a look at this year’s Flood Expo!

The agenda is live and the countdown is on for the 2021 edition of The Flood Expo! You can start planning your day and prepare for the UK’s largest exhibition designed for individuals, businesses and local authorities to discover the latest products and strategies within the flood sector. Taking place on 22-23 September at the NEC, Birmingham, it’s time to connect the industry once again.

Education and Networking at The Flood Expo

The Flood Expo boasts a unique educational programme consisting of CPD accredited, expert-led seminars and panel debates, live demonstrations of the latest technology, as well as market-leading companies, equipped with the industry’s finest solution-led products and services. Here you can discover how we can transform the way flooding is predicted, prevented, and managed. 

The three main themes for the Flood Expo cover all aspects of flood prediction, prevention and response. Flood prediction looks at the latest flood forecasting models, discovering the use of technology, including artificial intelligence, flow monitoring and land surveying, helping to move towards accurate early warning systems targeted to a regional area. Flood prevention explores the latest infrastructure, technology and techniques to protect against flooding. Exhibitors will showcase solutions for SUDs, dredging, property flood resilience and infrastructure including flood barriers. Flood response covers the equipment and solutions for when the flooding hits. Experts will present the different safety equipment, flood barriers, pumping solutions, water rescue equipment and the post flooding clean-up solutions.

Communities Prepared’s Programme Manager, Hannah Baker is speaking in the all-new Defence and Response theatre on Day 1, 22nd September at 11am. Hannah will be discussing community resilience in a post-pandemic world exploring how communities have evolved through the pandemic. The organisers of the Flood Expo are also excited to announce new additions to the CPD accredited, expert-led speaker line-up:

Live flood warnings: how it started & how it’s going

Rod Plummer, Co-founder & Managing Director at Shoothill. From the man that spearheaded the creation of Shoothill’s Flood Alerts (the UK’s first online live flood warning map) comes a talk about how the idea of Flood Alerts came about, what it led to, where things are today, and what it’s like innovating in the flood sector.

ResilenceDirect supports flood NowCasting and accessibility mapping for emergency responders

Luana Avagliano, Head of ResilienceDirect at ResilienceDirect (Cabinet Office) and Dapeng Yu, Professor of River Dynamics at Loughborough University will be discussing how ResilienceDirect are using innovation and working in partnership with Loughborough University to deliver surface water flood nowcasting and accessibility mapping for emergency responders.

Planning and Flood Risk

Richard Blyth, Head of Policy Practice & Research at Royal Town Planning Institute. This session will cover the role of the planning system in reducing flood risk and explore what the prospects are for the future in the context of planning reform and the Environment Bill.

See the full agenda here.

Brand New Feature –  Flood Barriers!

A first for the Flood Expo, we would like to welcome you to an awesome new feature of the show, the Flood Barrier Zone. An area of the floor plan dedicated to showcasing the latest flood barriers in the industry; expect to see barriers of up to 20 metres up close and personal!

NOAQ Flood Protection will be displaying their barrier that is designed so that it is automatically anchored by the weight of the flood water itself. This means the barriers are extremely light, weighing less than 1% of the sandbags, whilst remaining extremely effective. A 50 cm high barrier weighs no more than 7 kg per running metre.

Innovative Global Products will be bringing their RAPID-H20 flood barrier, a new and innovative flood control system that is extremely easy to deploy and remove from location to location. Once on site, there is no heavy equipment required for full deployment or removal, thus keeping costs to a minimum.

Your safety is the event organiser’s number one priority which is why they are doing all they can to ensure you feel at ease when attending the Expo. The unmissable seminars from leading environmental experts will have added capacity, networking zones will include more space and access, plus, high touchpoints and interactive show features are subject to enhanced sanitising and cleaning regimes. See the full list of safety measures you can expect here!

Be sure to visit Communities Prepared on stand 4-D101 and why not invite your community too? To discover the latest innovations, technological advancements and to keep up to date with the latest legislation within the flood prediction, prevention and response sectors register for your free ticket today!

Online volunteer engagement: through COVID-19 and beyond

Lowdham Flood Action Group (FLAG) share their experiences of communicating as a group, and with the community through COVID-19, while offering some of their key online volunteer engagement tips. 

At the height of the early stages of lockdown, when there was significant volunteer activity, communications were daily with volunteers. This was both direct through WhatsApp and through social media, including Facebook. This structure was appropriate for the situation and the volunteers appreciated it.  As the need for support diminished, so did the appetite for volunteers to receive communications.  As a consequence, we stopped the direct messaging and reduced the volume of social media posts too. We now use a WhatsApp group made up of all current volunteers to ask for help for very occasional tasks, normally involving transport to Covid jabs.  

We also provide a minimum of monthly updates on flood defence progress across village Facebook sites, as well as posting on wider issues such as climate change from time to time. The most popular posts on Facebook tend to be the ones about flooding in Lowdham, especially when flood risk is in the air. Requests for assistance usually get good responses with offers.

Think about your audiences, even imagine a typical character, and plan how they would like to receive communications.

After an earlier flood risk incident this year, we posted on our Facebook page regularly during the event and these posts were viewed by hundreds, with many appreciative comments. We’ve gained over a hundred members since January this year. We still get a few requests to join the Facebook group every month. Members really seemed to like the regular updates during events, and on the progress of flood defences and on maintenance/improvements.

In the build up to a possible flood event we’re very careful with communications in two ways. Firstly, we don’t want to repeatedly stand our volunteers up only to discover that we have overestimated the likelihood of them being needed. Secondly, we are very mindful of the psychological impact we have on those vulnerable to flooding with repeated warnings. This requires fine judgment, and we very much take a ‘team view’ about if and when to communicate.

Our online volunteer engagement tips

  • WhatsApp is a useful tool and has really helped bind our group together
  • Consider putting in place certain rules in a WhatsApp group. For example, we request no general ‘chat’ as this causes too many alerts on people’s phones. Not everyone is always ‘on social media’ and it’s important to be respectful of this while retaining the focus on responding to requests
  • Build an online presence (website, blog, social media) to reach more people and raise awareness in the community
  • Encouragement is key! When contacted by phone, our admin team encouraged potential volunteers to sign up online but also took their contact details so they could follow up if the link to sign up didn’t come through. The team also encouraged residents who “didn’t want to be a nuisance” to sign up so we had their details just in case. Most recipients are not online “fluent” or used to asking for help but do respond with gentle hand holding
  • Share some of your Facebook posts on local relevant pages. We’ve found this has increased the reach of our posts. We’re careful not to share too specialist or detailed posts, so the people who are ’just interested’ don’t get overburdened
  • Where there are specific projects (e.g., repairs in one part of the village) then a small email group creates greater involvement, traction and feeling of belonging (remember to use bcc though!)
  • Think about your audiences, even imagine a typical character, and plan how they would like to receive communications. Recognise that not all information will be current all the time. For example, it’s OK to have slightly out of date written information in a monthly Parish Magazine as long as it’s clearly dated

Thank you to Lowdham FLAG for sharing their insights into online volunteer engagement. Do you have any experiences as a group you’d like to share on our blog? Please get in touch.

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