“That’s Where I First Saw the Water”

Mobilizing Children’s Voices in UK Flood Risk Management

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  • 1 Lancaster University a.lloydwilliams@lancaster.ac.uk
  • 2 Lancaster University a.bingley@lancaster.ac.uk
  • 3 Lancaster University marion.walker@lancaster.ac.uk
  • 4 Lancaster University m.mort@lancaster.ac.uk
  • 5 Save the Children UK ginny.howells@gmail.com
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Abstract

This article reports on a project, led jointly by Lancaster University and Save the Children UK, that used mobile, creative, and performance-based methods to understand children’s experiences and perceptions of the 2013–2014 UK winter floods and to promote their voices in flood risk management. We argue that our action-based methodology situated the children as “flood actors” by focusing on their sensory experience of the floods and thus their embodied knowledge and expertise. The research activities of walking, talking, and taking photographs around the flooded landscape, as well as model making and the use of theater and performance, helped to “mobilize” the children not only to recall what they did during the floods but also to identify and communicate to policy makers and practitioners how we can all do things differently before, during, and after flooding.

Contributor Notes

Alison Lloyd Williams is Senior Research Associate in sociology at Lancaster University. Her research interests are the uses of theater in education and development and, more recently, disaster resilience. She has worked on school and community projects in the United Kingdom, Japan, and a number of African countries and developed the use of performance methods on the Economic and Social Research Council “Children, Young People and Flooding” project. E-mail: a.lloydwilliams@lancaster.ac.uk

Amanda Bingley is Lecturer in health research in the Faculty of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University. Her work focuses on the relationship between mental health, well-being, and place, including the effects of woodland and natural spaces on mental health in young people, research with older people, and the benefits of gardening, woodland workers, and older conservation volunteers. Her particular interest is in ethnographic, participatory arts research methodologies informed by her background in psychoanalytic geographies. E-mail: a.bingley@lancaster.ac.uk

Marion Walker is a human geographer and Senior Research Associate in sociology at Lancaster University. Her research interests are the geography of education, research with children and young people, and working with innovative methodologies. She has extensive research experience in working with flood-affected families in the United Kingdom and led the research on the Hull Children’s Flood Project following the severe floods of 2007. E-mail: marion.walker@lancaster.ac.uk

Maggie Mort is Professor of the sociology of science, technology, and medicine at Lancaster University. She is Coordinator of the European Commission Horizon 2020 project CUIDAR: Cultures of Disaster Resilience Among Children and Young People, and the Economic and Social Research Council “Children, Young People and Flooding” research project. She teaches and supervises in disaster studies, health policy and practice, patient safety, and medical uncertainty and has published widely on technological change in health and social care and on health and social consequences of disaster. E-mail: m.mort@lancaster.ac.uk

Virginia Howells was formerly the UK Emergencies Manager for Save the Children UK, where her role was to ensure children’s needs were met before, during, and after emergencies, particularly in the United Kingdom and Europe. A key part of this work focused on increasing children’s resilience and participation within emergency management. E-mail: ginny.howells@gmail.com