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COMMUNITY RESILIENCE RESEARCH: Final Report on Theoretical Research and Analysis of Case Studies

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The Community Resilience research project aimed at developing a better understanding of the role of community resilience in emergency response and recovery situations in order to inform Cabinet Office / Civil Contingencies Secretariat policy on community resilience and to inform the development of future work. A desk based review of existing evidence on community resilience and an examination of the role of community resilience in the context of emergencies in four case studies were carried out. The case studies were: o Two on flooding (Thirlby, Yorkshire; and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk) o Snow and ice (Forest of Dean) o The Summer 2011 civil disorder (riot) ( Peckham, London). In addition to the Evidence Review and the Case Studies’ research, a workshop was carried out bringing together interviewees, policy staff from CCS and DSTL, academics and national stakeholders in emergency planning to consider commonalities and discuss emerging findings. The Evidence Review examined two key issues: The importance of community resilience to emergency response and The factors that promote or inhibit community resilience, including why some people choose to engage and others do not. The areas investigated were: 1. Understanding resilience in the context of emergencies 2. Understanding community 3. Understanding community in emergency response and how this influences activities 4. Characteristics of communities that influence community resilience in emergencies 5. Networks and social capital 6. Community structures, governance and their influence on community resilience 7. Characteristics of good practice engagement on the part of institutions responsible for emergencies and the extent to which these characteristics promote community resilience A key finding was the need to understand the structures and processes that constitute “community” so that resilience to hazards is embedded within current networks and practices, drawing effectively on appropriate resource during emergencies. A definition of community resilience was developed for the project to express that emphasis: “Communities (social, spatial, cognitive) working with local resources (information, social capital, economic development, and community competence) alongside local expertise (e.g. local emergency planners, voluntary sector, local responders) to help themselves and others to prepare and respond to, and to recover from emergencies, in ways that sustain an acceptable level of community functioning” The four case studies were analysed individually and themes were drawn out from all four which were: 1. The role of networks – social capital in action 2. Types of resilience 3. The role of leaders and influential individuals 4. Governance – clash of cultures? 5. Perceptions of community and identity 6. Building community resilience to emergencies – starting where people are 7. Perception of the hazard and its relation to community resilience. Recommendations were made for future action and research.
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August 2009
Research project for the
UK Government Cabinet
Office funded by the UK
Government Defence
Science and Technology
Laboratory (DSTL)
Final Report
December 2011
Collingwood Environmental
Planning Limited
with Kingston University
COMMUNITY RESILIENCE RESEARCH:
Final Report on Theoretical Research and
Analysis of Case Studies
Final Report December 2011
Community Resilience Research Collingwood Environmental Planning
1
Acknowledgements
This research project was for the UK Government Cabinet Office and funded by the UK Government Defence
Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). The DSTL project manager was Keith Bingham and the DSTL study
leads were Alice Gore and Dr Aaron Cooper. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office lead was Nejla
Sabberton.
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL),
Strategic Analysis Group, DSTL Policy and Capability Studies, I-Sat J, C036, Floor C 153, Grenville West Court,
Portsdown West, Fareham, Hants PO17 6AD
www.dstl.gov.uk
The report was authored by Dr Clare Twigger-Ross, Paula Orr from Collingwood Environmental Planning
Limited (CEP), Dr Hugh Deeming, Jenny Stafford (CEP Associate Consultants), Dr Tracey Coates and Dr Mark
Ramsden (Kingston University).
Collingwood Environmental Planning Ltd
1E, The Chandlery, 50 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7QY
Tel: +44 (0)20 7407 8700
www.cep.co.uk
Company Registration No. 06600181
The authors would like to thank Alice Gore, Dr Aaron Cooper and Fergus Anderson from DSTL and Nejla
Sabberton from the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office, for their views, comments and inputs. We
would also like to thank all those who were very generous with their time in providing feedback and
participating in interviews and case studies and the workshop.
Citation
This report should be cited as:
Twigger-Ross, C., Coates, T., Deeming, H., Orr, P., Ramsden M. and Stafford, J. (2011) Community Resilience
Research: Final Report on Theoretical research and analysis of Case Studies report to the Cabinet Office and
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Collingwood Environmental Planning Ltd, London.
Cover photographs:
People in Peckham, South London place positive messages about love of their community onto a
boarded up shop window following the disturbances, August 2011.
Flooding during the tidal surge of November 2007 at South Quay, Great Yarmouth. © Great Yarmouth
Borough Council.
Disclaimer
Collingwood Environmental Planning has taken all reasonable care to ensure that the information contained in this report
is accurate. However, no warranty or representation is given that the information contained within it is complete or free
from errors or inaccuracies. Any opinions in this report are based on the professional judgment of the consultants, taking
into account the scope of the work which they were commissioned to do. The contents of this report should not be
considered to constitute a legal opinion. To the extent permitted by applicable laws, Collingwood Environmental Planning
Limited accepts no liability for any loss or damages or expenses of any kind including without limitation compensatory,
direct, indirect or consequential damages, loss of income or profit, or claims by third parties howsoever arising in
connection with use of this report.
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Contents
Executive Summary ....................................................................................... 1
Aims objectives and approach ........................................................................................................................... 1
Findings .............................................................................................................................................................. 1
Recommendations ............................................................................................................................................. 2
1. Introduction ............................................................................................. 4
2. Summary of Evidence Review: The Importance of Social/Community
Resilience to Emergency Response ................................................................ 5
Understanding resilience in the context of emergencies .................................................................................. 5
Understanding community ................................................................................................................................ 6
Understanding “community” in emergency response and how this influences activities ................................ 9
Characteristics of communities that influence community resilience in emergencies ................................... 10
Networks and social capital ............................................................................................................................. 11
Community structures, governance and their influence on community resilience ......................................... 12
Characteristics of good practice engagement on the part of institutions responsible for emergencies and the
extent to which these characteristics promote community resilience............................................................ 14
3. Case Studies: Overview of Findings ........................................................ 20
Introduction and approach .............................................................................................................................. 20
Research Method ............................................................................................................................................. 20
Case study summaries: Thirlby, North Yorkshire ............................................................................................. 21
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk ................................................................................................................................. 22
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire ...................................................................................................................... 23
Peckham, South London .................................................................................................................................. 24
4. Themes Arising from the Case Studies ................................................... 26
The role of networks social capital in action................................................................................................. 26
Types of resilience ........................................................................................................................................... 30
The role of leaders and influential individuals ................................................................................................. 31
Governance ...................................................................................................................................................... 33
Perceptions of community and identity .......................................................................................................... 34
Building community resilience starting where people are ........................................................................... 35
Perception of the hazard and its relation to community resilience ................................................................ 36
5. Lessons from the Case Studies ............................................................... 37
Thirlby .............................................................................................................................................................. 37
Great Yarmouth ............................................................................................................................................... 37
Forest of Dean.................................................................................................................................................. 39
Peckham........................................................................................................................................................... 39
6. Recommendations ................................................................................. 41
Support local people to engage with resilience ............................................................................................... 41
Improve communication between the Local Resilience Fora and local communities ..................................... 42
Recommendations for further research .......................................................................................................... 43
7. References ............................................................................................. 45
Appendix 1: Workshop Record (17
th
November 2011) .................................. 49
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Executive Summary
Aims objectives and approach
The Community Resilience research project aimed at developing a better understanding of the role
of community resilience in emergency response and recovery situations in order to inform Cabinet
Office / Civil Contingencies Secretariat policy on community resilience and to inform the
development of future work. There were two parts to the research:
A desk based review of existing evidence on community resilience;
An examination of the role of community resilience in the context of emergencies in four
case studies. The case studies were:
o Two on flooding (Thirlby, Yorkshire; and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk)
o Snow and ice (Forest of Dean)
o The Summer 2011 civil disorder (riot) ( Peckham, London).
In addition to the Evidence Review and the Case Studies’ research, a workshop was carried out on
the 17
th
November bringing together interviewees, policy staff from CCS and DSTL, academics and
national stakeholders in emergency planning to consider commonalities and discuss emerging
findings.
Findings
The Evidence Review examined two key issues: The importance of community resilience to
emergency response and The factors that promote or inhibit community resilience, including why
some people choose to engage and others do not. The areas investigated were:
1. Understanding resilience in the context of emergencies
2. Understanding community
3. Understanding community in emergency response and how this influences activities
4. Characteristics of communities that influence community resilience in emergencies
5. Networks and social capital
6. Community structures, governance and their influence on community resilience
7. Characteristics of good practice engagement on the part of institutions responsible for
emergencies and the extent to which these characteristics promote community resilience
A key finding was the need to understand the structures and processes that constitute “community
so that resilience to hazards is embedded within current networks and practices, drawing effectively
on appropriate resource during emergencies. A definition of community resilience was developed
for the project to express that emphasis: Communities (social, spatial, cognitive) working with local
resources (information, social capital, economic development, and community competence)
alongside local expertise (e.g. local emergency planners, voluntary sector, local responders) to help
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themselves and others to prepare and respond to, and to recover from emergencies, in ways that
sustain an acceptable level of community functioning
The four case studies were analysed individually and themes were drawn out from all four which
were:
1. The role of networks social capital in action
2. Types of resilience
3. The role of leaders and influential individuals
4. Governance clash of cultures?
5. Perceptions of community and identity
6. Building community resilience to emergencies starting where people are
7. Perception of the hazard and its relation to community resilience.
Recommendations
The recommendations fall into two categories which are summarised below (full details on pp 41-
43). Recommendations for further research are also made.
Support local people to engage with resilience
Provide support to the process of community resilience planning recognising that the process of
developing a resilience plan can, in itself, foster a sense of community and build resilience.
Emphasise the importance of working with existing social networks for community resilience
planning, e.g. informal networks between neighbours, neighbourhood watch, networks through
schools (i.e. adult, e.g. clubs, PTA etc., as well as pupil networks).
Be prepared for community resilience groups and plans to look different in different areas and
recognise that imposed solutions, plans or processes are less likely to be effective.
Develop a simple community analysis process e.g. flow diagram of key questions to be asked about
communities, aimed at local authority emergency planning officers, community resilience group
members and would sit alongside the Guiding Principles and could be used as part of a community
impact assessment by emergency responders.
Facilitate the “community” of community resilience champions by enabling sharing of stories,
coming together and for them to go out to other communities as “experts”.
Improve communication between the Local Resilience Fora and local
communities.
Encourage appropriate community representation on the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) so that links
between people at a local level and the level of the resilience forum are developed. Whilst the Local
Resilience Forum operates at the Police Area level, many hazards and risks threaten only very
localised populations.
Support and look for opportunities for knowledge exchange between LRFs and local community
resilience groups e.g. through workshops, dedicated sessions to community resilience.
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Consider training and awareness raising to LRF members in the role of communities in emergencies.
This would provide examples of how engagement with communities in emergencies is being carried
out and the issues around it
Foster an attitude of openness and trust from emergency responders, external organisations in their
dealings with people in local areas. Avoid excessive secrecy, respond promptly to questions, and
communicate frequently through a variety of channels.
Be aware that building trust is a key principle in the development of effective governance and strong
networks. This involves regular, personal contact between agents. Face-to-face contact appears to
be a particularly effective, and possibly essential, way to build trust.
Ensure that the language that is used by emergency responders is appropriate and is sensitive to the
nature of the communities that are being engaged with. Responders should be aware that they are
sometimes not the best people to effectively contextualise the importance of contingency planning
for people whose most pressing priorities, often justifiably, lie elsewhere.
Summary of recommendations for further research
How do emergency responders (e.g. police, fire, Environment Agency) engage with communities
around resilience?
How and in what ways does community resilience develop over time and context?
How do different types of community interact with different types of hazard? What does community
resilience look like in different emergencies?
How is community resilience understood by community members and emergency responders? How
do those understandings impact on action during emergencies?
What is the role of small businesses in developing community resilience?
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1. Introduction
The aim of the Community Resilience research project was to develop a better understanding of the
role of community resilience in emergency response and recovery situations in order to inform
Cabinet Office / Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) policy on community resilience and to inform
the development of future work.
There were two parts to the research. The first part of the project involved reviewing existing
evidence on community resilience in order to explore:
The importance of community resilience to emergency response
The factors that promote or inhibit community resilience, including why some people choose
to engage and others do not.
This is presented in a separate report “Community Resilience Research: Evidence Review”.
The second part of the project consisted of four case studies to examine the role of community
resilience in the context of emergencies:
Two on flooding (Thirlby, Yorkshire; and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk)
Snow and ice (Gloucestershire)
The summer 2011 civil disorder (riots) in August (specifically, Peckham, London).
The case studies enabled a more detailed understanding of:
How communities respond in the face of adverse events
The factors that facilitate people working together in those situations
The extent to which that community response was linked with and assisted the response by
‘the authorities’/ emergency response organisations.
The full versions of the case studies are presented in a separate report “Community Resilience
Research: Case Studies, Lessons and Recommendations”.
In addition to the Evidence Review and the Case Studies’ research, a workshop was carried out on
the 17
th
November 2011 bringing together case study interviewees, policy staff from CCS and
Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), academics and national stakeholders in
emergency planning. A record of the workshop was produced and forms an Appendix to this Final
Report.
This report consists of the following:
A summary of the review of the evidence around community resilience in relation to
emergency response together with a discussion on community engagement in emergencies.
A discussion and synthesis of the findings from the four case studies carried out as part of
this research.
General lessons from the case studies.
Recommendations for practice, policy and further research.
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2. Summary of Evidence Review: The Importance of
Social/Community Resilience to Emergency
Response
Social or community resilience has been gaining ground within government and disaster literature in
the last decade, yet the focus has been on resilience with less emphasis on the nature of community.
This is perhaps because definitions of resilience have focussed largely on the individual
(psychological) or the system (socio-ecological). However, impacts from disasters (e.g. flooding ) are
clearly felt at the community level and there is research which discusses how communities respond
after such events e.g. in terms of volunteers helping out (Watson et al, 2009) and community spaces
being found for people to gather (Easthope, 2011). The nature of those responses varies and there
is work to suggest that it varies according to the type of community (Coates, 2010), as well as with
the type of event. Given this, in order to support communities to be more resilient in the face of
emergencies having an understanding of how communities work is very relevant. Therefore, key
aspect of this research is to integrate understandings of community into the concept of resilience.
Therefore, we start with separate discussions of resilience and community ending with a brief review
of “social/community resilience”.
Understanding resilience in the context of emergencies
Defining resilience
The capacity of an individual, community or system to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of
function, structure, and identity” (Cabinet Office, 2011: p10)
And……..
Resilience can be observed as……..:
Resistance “holding the line”
Bounce-back “getting back to normal”
Adaptation - “adjusting to a new normal”
Transformation “owning a need to change”
And…….
Resilience building is an ongoing dynamic process rather than a static outcome.
In this research we take as our basic definition the Cabinet Office definition in National Strategic
Framework for Community Resilience, which in turn has come from Edwards (2010) through
research by Demos:
“The capacity of an individual, community or system to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable
level of function, structure, and identity”. (Cabinet Office, 2011: p.10)
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We would like to add to this definition and highlight that resilience can be understood from a variety
of ecological, environmental and civil-protection-relevant perspectives (Adger, 2000; Coles & Buckle,
2004; Folke, 2006; Klein et al., 2003; Medd & Marvin, 2005; O'Brien & Read, 2005). Through
interpretation, these multiple perspectives can be roughly translated as describing resilience in four
principal types (Whittle et al., 2010) which are very useful to articulate these because they can be
more or less helpful in building resilience. These are:
Resilience as resistance “holding the line”
Resilience as bounce-back “getting back to normal
Resilience as adaptation - “ adapting to a new normal
Resilience as transformation “owning a need to change”.
In addition we would argue that resilience building is an ongoing process rather than a static
outcome. Given the dynamic nature of both communities and the cycle of emergencies, it is more
useful to discuss what processes and structures are in place to facilitate resilience than to ask if a
community is resilient or not.
Understanding community
Community in this research is understood to be a combination of:
Spatial
Social and
Cognitive elements.
The definition of community used in this research combines three elements of community:
the spatial element;
social relations and structures such as networks; and
cognitive or psychological elements such as local or group identities and the creation of
belonging/exclusion.
Research has shown that to fully understand communities, the ways in which they respond to
emergencies, and how they may be changed by the experience, it is necessary to study the
interrelationship of these three elements (Coates, 2011). Recent approaches to studying the
impacts of disasters have recognised that these are essentially social events and determined by
factors in people’s everyday lives such as what groups they belong to, how they perceive risks, who
they trust etc (Blaikie et al., 1994; Cannon, 2000; Enarson and Morrow, 1998; Fordham, 1998;
Hewitt, 1997; Wisner et al., 2004). This approach has highlighted the need to understand the social
processes of ‘everyday life’ rather than narrowly focussing on the crisis situation (Wisner et al.,
2004). However to date, the focus of research has been on the experiences of individuals and
households (Twigger-Ross, 2005; Walker et al., 2005; Walker and Burningham, 2011) and whilst
existing research and anecdotal evidence suggest that emergencies do impact at the community
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level, relatively little is known about the impacts on, and response of, social structures in the local
area (Tapsell, Tunstall and Wilson, 2003). Understanding the processes operating to create and
maintain communities is a key component in community resilience and the extensive community
literature can play a large part in achieving this goal.
Recent work argues that a community can never be satisfactorily defined either by location or by its
networks. It can mean different things to different individuals and groups and this will depend upon
the context. Whilst this approach offers a number of benefits critics have argued that the focus on
the cultural aspects of community has been at the expense of spatial, material and social aspects
that are so crucial with regards to emergencies in geographic areas (Amit, 2002; Herzfeld, 2005; Neal
and Walters, 2008). Given this as noted above we take the view that community is defined in
spatial, social and psychological terms. Even a community which appears to have no physical
location can be defined in relation to a physical location through its absence. Because the
emergencies we are considering are geographical in nature if is vital to understand how the people
located in that area relate to each other in order to see how resilience can be improved.
Understanding community resilience
Community Resilience is defined as:
Communities (social, spatial, cognitive) working with local resources (information, social capital, economic
development, and community competence) alongside local expertise (e.g. local emergency planners, voluntary
sector, local responders) to help themselves and others to prepare and respond to, and to recover from
emergencies, in ways that sustain an acceptable level of community functioning.
In terms of our working definition of community resilience, bearing in mind the previous discussion
about resilience and community, we highlight here the key aspects that we want to focus on.
Firstly, community resilience is not something that just emerges, post-hoc, as a response to an
emergency, but rather we would suggest it builds on pre-existing networks and capacities , which
may have influenced its emergence (positively or negatively). Community response is built using
pre-existing community capacities, which are expanded or extended in line with a perhaps
dramatically identified need (Dynes, 2005). Norris et al (2008) describe community resilience as
process linking a network of adaptive capacities. These capacities are:
Economic Development: e.g. a community’s resilience depends not only on the volume of
economic resources available to it, but also on their diversity. The capacity to distribute
post-disaster resources to those who most need them is also vital.
Social Capital: e.g. social networks need structure, institutions of support provision,
rootedness, a commitment to networks goals and grass-roots leadership. To this we would
add that trust and reciprocity are also vital factors in the development of social capital and
that these are developed with the benefit of actual, long-term (good or bad) experiences in
people’s lives or in their local environment (McCulloch, 2003).
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Information and Communication: e.g. the need for systems and infrastructure for
information exchange and a shared meaning and purpose which means that
communications will be understood in the intended context.
Community Competence: e.g. a capacity for action and decision-making to be achieved
collectively and for the proactive development of efficacy and empowerment.
This suggests that, if tapped effectively, the capacities needed to develop community resilience may
be able to be developed at any stage of the integrated emergency management (IEM) cycle, i.e. not
just during response, as is implied by the definition of Community Resilience that is offered in the
National Framework on Community Resilience
1
and not predominantly during recovery, as suggested
by Whittle et al. (2010). In effect, for many communities the capacities that facilitate resilience
building are already there (or are not).
Not only, however, does Norris et al.’s framework identify the necessary resources and dynamic
attributes, which will enable successful coping in an event. In discussing community resources it
allows us to investigate the complexity of the community in terms of how those resources might be
useful or not across the IEM cycle.
A further important aspect is drawn out by Norris’s et al.’s approach and that is the understanding
that to improve community resilience it will be important to improve the underlying social aspects
that make people more vulnerable to negative impacts from hazards in particular and from life
events in general, e.g. Low incomes, poor health, low educational attainment. In this way it is useful
to draw in some of the work on urban regeneration where community resilience in the face of
economic and social pressures is a key issue. Urban regeneration, neighbourhood renewal and
economic development practitioners are generally focused, in the simplest terms, on how an area
can build or capitalise on its economic and social strengths and how community cohesion and social
capital can be enhanced to support the former. In particular, these approaches seek to tackle what
are often ongoing problems of economic and social deprivation. Reference to community resilience
has been made in this context: building more resilient communities to be able better respond to and
overcome economic and social pressures. The role of community networks and community
engagement are directly related to developing community cohesion and social capital which are
related to community resilience.
1
The National Framework defines Community Resilience 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.” This definition fails to encompass resilience-building that occurs at any stage of the IEM
cycle apart other than response.
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Understanding community in emergency response and how this
influences activities
Communities in the context of emergencies have been considered as:
Self-evident and unproblematic
Synonymous with “the public”
These understandings can lead to:
waste of local knowledge and expertise,
lack of trust in authorities,
divisions in communities,
…all of which are likely to considerably reduce community resilience in an emergency.
Community has been a central theme in both this and the previous government’s policy and this can
be seen in emergency response as well as in many other policies. However, as discussed in the
previous section community is very malleable concept and its ability to mean so many things helps
to account for its appeal and its longevity (Day, 2006). Difficulties can arise where groups attempt to
come together, with community as a central notion, but without necessarily sharing the same vision
of community. Different conceptualisations will lead to different strategies and interventions. The
problem and its solution will be framed in different ways. This can lead to misunderstanding, missed
opportunities and even conflict and damage. Attempts at engagement can therefore show
insufficient understanding of the complexity of community, leading to missed opportunities in
supporting these community structures or worse, a disruption or dissipation of potential community
resilience (Buckle, 1999, Amlôt and Page, 2008).
Examples where lack of consideration of community structures has caused
problems
There are a number of examples where a lack of consideration of community structures in post
emergency management has caused problems: mistrust, alienation of local people, divisions
between members of communities, and highlights the need to understand community level social
impacts. Poor communication through a lack of awareness of how local structures work can lead to
mistrust (Coates, 2010). In the changing relationship between the expert and the public, trust has
come to be seen as a key issue (Arnoldi, 2009; Beck, 1992; Drevensek, 2004; Dunn, 2008; Giddens,
1994a&b; Rayner, 1992; Renn, 2008). There is some evidence to suggest that there is a loss of faith
in expertise and trust in experts is declining (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1994a&b). The division of
responsibilities between a number of organisations may also lead to mistrust as has been shown
frequently in relation to flooding. Despite steps to improve coordination over recent years it
continues to be an issue however, as highlighted by the Pitt Review (Pitt, 2008)
“Poorly-managed and implemented response and recovery operations, however well intended, can
serve to increase feelings of isolation, loss, anger and distrust” (Amlôt and Page, 2008p 34). There is
ample evidence from the flood literature of divisions caused or exacerbated by the handling of post-
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flood resources (Fordham, 1998; Fordham and Ketteridge, 1995; Tapsell et al., 1999; Tapsell, 2000;
Tapsell and Tunstall, 2001). The technological disaster literature also illustrates the dangers of
dividing the community in this way (Freudenberg, 1997). For example, a study of the social and
psychological impact of a chemical contamination incident of a Cheshire village in the UK found that
the separation of the village into different compensation zones exacerbated divisions, and the
community was effectively destroyed. The village social structure was damaged and the people of
the village went from living in a pleasant close-knit community, to living in a blighted, contaminated,
divided community that was disintegrating on a daily basis(Barnes et al., 2002 p 2238). The study
highlighted how the community-level social impacts need to be taken into consideration when
managing incidents and the dangers of ignoring this aspect.
If community resilience is to be improved or supported, it will be necessary for those involved to
engage with communities as a complex social structure. Local communities may vary considerably
and it is necessary to recognise this variation rather than expecting one solution to work in all cases.
It is also important to engage with residents understandings of their community rather than
imposing or assuming some readily available label. Community may have multiple meanings and it is
therefore important for those working together to come to a shared understanding in order to
communicate effectively.
Characteristics of communities that influence community resilience in
emergencies
Research in this area is relatively limited as yet, and as both community and resilience are complex
multi-faceted concepts it is a difficult task to know which characteristics of community will influence
which aspects of resilience and under what conditions. However, research suggests a number of
related community characteristics which play a role in resilience: networks: social capital; trust
identity and previous experience. These are summarised in the table below followed by a detailed
discussion of networks and social capital given its centrality to this research.
Table 1: Characteristics of communities which play a role in resilience
Characteristics
Key features
Potential influence on community resilience in
emergencies
Networks
Bonding
capital
Close knit, family/friends
support, could be insular
Likely to provide important “getting by” support in an
emergency, but may not be linked to wider resources. If
linked into authorities, organisations could provide very
useful ways of communicating with local people in
emergencies.
Bridging
capital
Looser networks between
people, communities of
interest, e.g. work,
protest
Can enable people to draw on a wider range of resources
during an emergency. Bridged networks may appear
after emergencies, galvanised around the emergency. If
developed around a number of issues then it provides
vital links between different types of people within an
area.
Linking
capital
Hierarchical networks
between local people
and authorities
If developed they provide the vital relationships between
organised emergency responders and local people in
such a way that improves responses to emergencies and
reduces negative impacts
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Characteristics
Key features
Potential influence on community resilience in
emergencies
Trust
Competence,
Consistency,
Empathy
Crucial to the development of social capital and in
governance structures
Identity
The values around which
a community coalesces
and expresses
Can be useful if the values link with those needed within
emergencies e.g. altruism, support for neighbours, but
care is needed that assumptions about how people with
a shared group identity will work in an emergency.
Previous experience
The experience a
community has had of
the event
The evidence suggests that previous hazard or
emergency experience at both the individual and
communal level plays a positive role in building resilience
e.g. knowing what to expect, signing up for warnings etc.
However, that experience can also ‘imprison’
communities in the belief that a low probability or ‘worst
case’ event, of greater magnitude than any in memory,
will never happen to them.
Community Context
Physical and social
features of the
community e.g. spaces
for communal events,
relative isolation and
social structures e.g.
parish councils
The interaction between the spatial and the social
aspects of community can be important in resilience
building e.g. if rest centres are outside a person’s
community they may not go to them in an emergency.
Isolated areas may foster a greater sense of perceived
resilience and therefore decline offers of help. Key social
centres e.g. pubs can provide valuable focus in
emergencies.
Networks and social capital
Networks are an essential part of any community. These networks may take many forms at a whole
variety of scales and may be mediated by technology as well as being face-to-face. There is ample
evidence within the disaster literature of people helping one another during and following a crisis
situation (Fernandez-Bilbao & Twigger-Ross, 2009; Pitt, 2008). There is also evidence that these
networks may be created or reinforced through the experience of the emergency situation in a
phenomenon known as the therapeutic community (Flint and Luloff, 2005; Fritz, 1961; Gurney,
1977; Tapsell et al., 1999). However, they may also be damaged and there may be division, in what
has been termed the corrosive community (Erikson, 1994; Freudenberg, 1997). It is clear that
networks will be called upon if there is to be some form of resilience. Correspondingly, disruptions
to the existing support networks by floods or by the removal of people to temporary
accommodation have been shown to reduce resilience (Buckle et al., 2000; Fordham, 1998). Recent
research suggests that although help is often willingly given by local people, at least in the
immediate crisis situation, this is dependent on the existing network structures. Help is more
widespread, collective and organised where networks are dense and interlinked and there already
exists a culture of working together (Coates, 2010). A key way in which networks have been
conceptualized is through the concept of “social capital”. Putnam (2000) has introduced the
categories of bonding, bridging and linking social capital to explain different types of networks, , but
as Deeming (2008) in his work in three coastal communities concludes merely having social capital
in a community does not mean that it is readily instantiated into any form of hazard resilience”p.295.
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The following table differentiates and summarises these three network types
2
,
and how they are
considered to affect community resilience.
Table 2: Categories of social capital and different types of networks
Key characteristics
Good for…/ Opportunities
Bad for…/ Risks
Close knit, often based on
familial or friendships ties
Support in emergencies
within network, sticking
together
Can be exclusive, may not be
linked to wider resources
that are needed to cope
within an emergency
Looser networks
Bringing people involved in
different groups together
providing access to wider
resources
May not be able to respond
quickly. May only offer very
narrow types of resource
based on the type of
relationship (the interest).
Unlikely to provide
emotional support
Hierarchical networks
between people in local
areas and organisations with
power and influence
Engendering collective
action
Can become rule bound over
formalised and potential for
manipulation by those in
power
Community structures, governance and their influence on community
resilience
Governance is……..the structures, actors and decision processes that are involved with public life
Factors of governance that influence community resilience:
Diversity….. of actors and structures in the governance structure: greater diversity likely to mean a
wider range of resources to be drawn on in emergencies
Autonomy….. of actors and structures : autonomous components likely to be more resilient
Interdependence….. of actors and structures: ability of each actor/structures to support each other
Adaptability……. of actors and structures to learn from experience: more adaptable actors and
structures will increase resilience
Collaboration….. between actors and institutions: partnership working between sectors brings in a
wide array of resources to draw on.
When decisions are jointly taken between two or more individuals then this implies the existence of
some kind of structure or institution. The concept of governance considers the institutions, bodies
or organisations involved in decision-making processes to consist of more than just ‘government’. It
2
The discussion concentrates on the types of informal networks that involve physical interaction between members;
therefore, it will not investigate what Putnam refers to as ‘tertiary’ associations. These are groups or organisations (e.g.
Greenpeace) to which increasing numbers of people ostensibly belong but to which members contribute no active
networking role other than to, for example, receive mailings that report the exploits of the group’s activist clique.
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may consist of a wider range of formal and informal bodies. The broader literature on governance,
from the social sciences, recognises that initiative and decision making processes do not take place
exclusively at the state level but within an increasingly pluralistic structure of agents at different
spatial scales. According to the concept of governance, actors do not consist of exclusively
government bodies but may include private sector business, community organisations, voluntary
sector bodies and other NGOs, as well as influential individuals. The concept of multilevel
governance suggests that governance takes place through processes and institutions operating at a
variety of geographical scales including a range of actors with different levels of authority (Hooghe
and Marks, 2003).
Pelling and Dill (2010) point to evidence from recent disasters to highlight the importance of political
context. While the evidence they draw from comes largely from less developed contexts, the aspect
of the political context is nevertheless pertinent to developed countries such as the UK and in
particular in relation to the influence at different sub-national, national and international scales.
Godschalk (2003) examines a range of different models of governance in order to evaluate the most
effective forms for fostering community resilience. Recent government policy places emphasis on
local and regional agents to mirror the more flexible and responsive forms of governance that
characterise contemporary community relationships (Bennett et al, 2004; Fuller et al, 2002).
Emphasis is given to local agents taking responsibility themselves for gathering the important
information and signals, organizing responses, and developing new delivery frameworks. This
requires highly responsive and flexible forms of governance rather than the top-down structures
characteristic of previous policy (Bennett and Payne, 2000; Benneworth, 2001). It is argued that,
rather than compete with or replace local networks and initiatives government policy is most
effectively channelled through existing local community structures. Pelling and Dill (2010) suggest
that the recent period of neoliberal policy is characterised by a shrinking state and a growth in non-
governmental actors.
There is a body of literature that questions that ability of governmental structures to plan ahead in
order to effectively respond to disasters, emergencies and extreme events. Learning from previous
disasters according to Pelling and Dill (2010) is problematic given the unique context of individual
events. Furthermore, the task of constructing governance structures to support community
resilience is problematic if events are uncertain and unpredictable, not just events associated with
the natural environment but also modern crises related to technology, health hazards, or
environmental catastrophes. The unpredictability of events makes advanced planning problematic.
Duit and Gallaz (2008) examine the effectiveness of governance structures and community resilience
in the context of complex adaptive systems (CAS). In the context of CAS unexpected or marginal
events can produce political crisis as unexpected events produce shocks and multiple factors can
cascade. However, they argue that different structures can produce different responses to crisis
events, with differing levels of success and resilience. There are a number of different
characteristics ascribed to governance structures in the literature but these may be summarised in
terms as five key characteristics:
Diversity….. of actors and structures in the governance structure: greater diversity likely to
mean a wider range of resources to be drawn on in emergencies
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Autonomy….. of actors and structures : autonomous components likely to be more resilient
Interdependence….. of actors and structures: ability of each actor/structures to support each
other
Adaptability……. of actors and structures to learn from experience: more adaptable actors
and structures will increase resilience
Collaboration….. between actors and institutions: partnership working between sectors
brings in a wide array of resources to draw on.
What is clear from this discussion of governance structures is for community resilience to be
improved there will need to be attention paid to the actors and institutions at different levels as
without the connections with those with power and between those with different types of resource
and power effective responses in emergencies are less likely to happen.
Characteristics of good practice engagement on the part of
institutions responsible for emergencies and the extent to which
these characteristics promote community resilience
Good Practice Community Engagement is the development of practices and actions that enable
members of the community to influence the decisions and get involved in the actions that affect
their lives (Involve, 2004, p.19)
Good practice engagement involves:
Recognition of engagement principles
Understanding the context in which engagement takes place
Clarity of objectives
Understanding the communities involved
Appropriate methods of communication and engagement
Evaluation and learning from practice
Civil contingency institutions do not seem to have focused on developing guidance or tools for
addressing the specific challenges of engaging with communities in the context of emergencies. The
Cabinet Office and the Voluntary Sector Civil Protection Forum have produced a Guidance Note on
Voluntary Sector Engagement (Cabinet Office, undated) which recognises the important role that
voluntary organisations can play in supporting responders in emergencies. However, the focus of
this document is on the formal aspects of relations between responders and voluntary organisations
(e.g. Service Level Agreements, Memorandums of Understanding and protocols). These are mainly
relevant to relations with large national or regional organisations and not so much to engagement
with communities or members of the community. Indeed, requiring community organisations to
spend time on formal procedures of this kind takes them away from work on the ground and may
even discourage action.
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Communication is one aspect of engagement that has received greater attention from emergency
responders. The Cabinet Office has guidance for emergency responders on communicating with the
public (Cabinet Office, revised in February 2011). This focuses on three main types of
communication: raising awareness of hazards, warning and keeping the public informed in the case
of an emergency (including working with the media). These are all essentially one-way flows of
communications, allowing for little feedback from members of the community or organisations and
for no discussion about the messages and their implications. One-way communication tends to see
the audience as passive receptors of information rather than as being actively engaged in response
and recovery. This kind of communication can be disempowering if it makes individuals or local
organisations dependent on a source of information external to the community. To be effective, risk
communication needs to be conducted as a long-term commitment requiring repeated resource
investment (Ronan & Johnston, 2005). From this work it is clear that the type of communication
that will lead to longer term, trusted relationships which are vital to resilience building, is best
defined as engagement, which is on a continuum from provision of information through to co-
delivery of actions but has at its heart a set of core principles and methods.
The following sections briefly examine the main elements of good practice engagement, based on
literature on engagement. While this literature refers to a range of contexts (community
development, regeneration, public health, environment, etc), the focus here is on how emergency
responders’ engagement with communities can foster resilience.
Recognition of engagement principles
There is an extensive literature on community engagement or public participation, based on evolving
practice and increasing recognition of the need to involve people in decisions and actions that affect
their lives (e.g. Wilcox, 1994; Warburton, 1998; Involve, 2005). Research and practice on public
participation indicate that while it is possible to point to examples of ‘good practice’ within the
engagement process, organisations and individuals who engage effectively build trust by being
transparent and showing respect for all participants, are clear about the scope and purpose of the
engagement and ensure that all interests are involved and their views taken into account. These
core principles are set out in different ways in different contexts; one example is the nine principles
set out by the Environment Agency in its approach to Working with Others (Environment Agency,
2006):
Clear boundaries
Providing information
Showing respect
Feeding back
Taking action
Learning
Being independent
Targeted approach
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Focused on common results.
When large complex institutions like local authorities or the Environment Agency engage with
communities, it is important that all members of staff, from senior management to staff working on
the ground, understand and reflect these principles in all their activities; failure to do so can lead to
a loss of trust and eventual disengagement by the community. Discussion and acceptance of good
practice principles of engagement at the highest levels of an organisation is also an essential first
step to ensuring that staff on the ground feel that they have ‘permission’ to spend time engaging
with communities
Understanding the context for engagement
In order to be able to engage effectively with communities, emergency responders need to
understand the context in which they are working. External organisations seeking to motivate or
build on community participation need to be clear about what they can influence in order to focus
their efforts effectively.
Understanding the incident management context
The Environment Agency has done considerable research on the impact of flooding on individuals
and communities and on community participation in flood preparedness, response and recovery. A
report commissioned following flooding in Yorkshire in 2000 (Wilkinson, 2005) suggested that the
ability of the local authority and other key agencies to establish strong relationships with the
community, “played a significant part in the physical, emotional and community recovery following
the traumatic event” (p.5). The emergency planning team at Bradford Metropolitan District Council
provided aftercare in the post-event period that not only facilitated the social and psychological
recovery of those affected but also helped the community to develop ongoing relationships with
other agencies including the Environment Agency. However, the study found a lack of ‘bridging
capital’ between the community immediately affected by the flooding and its agencies, and other
neighbouring communities. Without the involvement of these neighbouring communities, it proved
difficult to find lasting solutions to the causes of the flooding. This reinforces the role of bridging
social capital as discussed earlier.
Using data to understand context
Gathering and using data is a central part of planning for emergencies. Responders have developed
sophisticated data systems to understand and monitor hazards and to anticipate and manage likely
responses. However, there has been a tendency to concentrate on data about the risks and hazards,
giving less consideration to the characteristics of the communities which could be affected by that
potential hazard. The Institute for Community Cohesion (ICoCo) has developed a tool to help local
authorities, the police service and other responders to understand and monitor tension and conflict
(ICoCo, June 2010, p.46). This is a specimen table of indicators, sources and spatial units, which
includes data that is publically available, covering:
Social inclusion
Segregation
Equal opportunities
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Educational attainment
Community safety
Population dynamics
Social networks
Political participation
Community engagement
Identification with a locality.
Monitoring this kind of information could help to provide a good picture of local community issues
and dynamics.
Clarity of objectives for engagement
Over the past two decades there has been a clear move to encourage greater public participation.
Much of this effort has focused on getting the people who will be affected by plans and strategies to
provide information to ensure that these are targeted effectively (‘getting it right first time’) and on
increasing understanding of and support for them and for the actions based on them (Baker et al,
2006). More recently the idea of ‘partnerships’ where all those involved in an issue work together,
has been given greater importance. However, for communities to be resilient, they will often need
to strengthen their own capacities as the basis for linking up with emergency responders. This
changes the objective of engagement, from bringing communities groups and members into a plan
or programme already defined by the emergency responder(s), to one of providing support to help
the community build capabilities on their own terms.
Research on environmental risks finds that the shifting of responsibility onto the public is
problematic and that citizens are ambivalent about this new role in their relation to state (Blake,
1999; Bickerstaff, Simmons and Pidgeon, 2008; Bickerstaff and Walker, 2002). Climate change and
radioactive waste management, for example, are seen as serious collective action problems, in
relation to which it is the responsibility of the state to establish a strong legal framework or guide to
personal choice (Bickerstaff, Simmons and Pidgeon, 2006).
Given the difficulties of engaging residents in flood mitigation activities (Harries, 2008) and resilience
measures more widely (Meyer, 2006; Slovic et al, 2001) it is worth exploring the possibility of
engaging communities in a broader range of activities than simply those related to disasters or
emergencies. If a wide range of problems or issues are included, then a clearer benefit may be seen
than if focusing on one type of event alone. Risk awareness and risk reduction programmes
implemented by agencies which are not accurately targeted at local priorities are more likely to fail
in their efforts to engage local people whose ‘risk attention’ is elsewhere: day-to-day life usually
takes precedence over spectacular but infrequent events (Buckle, Marsh and Smale, 2000). Research
by Winkworth et al (2009) looking at communities following bushfires in Australia indicates that
engaging with community in a broader sense than has been traditional is also beneficial for the
relationship between government and community.
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Understanding the communities involved stakeholder analysis
As shown earlier, insufficient understanding of the complexity of community, can mean that
opportunities for supporting community structures are missed or even that social capital is
undermined with a loss of potential community resilience (Buckle, 1999; Amlôt and Page, 2008). An
understanding of the types of social capital and the characteristics of governance structures can help
emergency responders to assess where they can most effectively focus their efforts in terms of
promoting or supporting resilience.
There are many tools for stakeholder or community analysis, from plotting organisations and groups
on a simple matrix (European Communities, 2003; Colbourne, 2008) to more detailed analysis of
community resources and relationships (e.g., Environment Agency, 2010). In applying these tools
and approaches, it is important to work with local people rather than in isolation, to avoid imposing
definitions or assessments from the ‘outside’. The aim of the stakeholder analysis is to ensure that a
systematic approach is taken to understanding where and who the communities are who need
engaging with.
Appropriate methods of communication and engagement
Finding the appropriate methods for engagement has been found to be important for the success of
the engagement, with the key factor being linking up the objectives with the methods used. It can
be easy to launch into a method (e.g. sending out a leaflet without thinking through the objective of
that approach).
A useful aid to considering the range of methods appropriate to different objectives is that
developed by Wilcox (1994) and is presented in the table below.
Table 3: Determining appropriate methods of communication and engagement
LEVEL /
STANCE
Information
Consultation
Deciding
together
Acting together
Supporting
Typical
process
Present and
promote
Communicate
and feedback
Consensus
building
Partnership
building
Community
development
Typical
methods
Leaflets
Media
Video
Surveys
Meetings
Workshops
Planning for
Real
Strategic Choice
Partnership
bodies
Advice
Support
Funding
Initiator
stance
'Here's what we
are going to do'
'Here's our
options - what
do you think?'
'We want to
develop options
and decide
actions
together'
'We want to
carry out joint
decisions
together'
'We can help
you achieve
what you want
within these
guidelines'
Initiator
benefits
Apparently less
effort
Improved
chances of
getting it right
New ideas and
commitment
from others
Brings in
additional
resources
Develops
capacity in the
community and
may reduce call
on services
Issues for
initiator
Will people
accept
consultation?
Are the options
realistic? Are
there others?
Do we have
similar ways of
deciding? Do
we know and
trust each
Where will the
balance of
control lie? Can
we work
together?
Will our aims be
met as well as
those of other
interests?
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LEVEL /
STANCE
Information
Consultation
Deciding
together
Acting together
Supporting
other?
Needed to
start ...
Clear vision
Identified
audience
Common
language
Realistic options
Ability to deal
with responses
Readiness to
accept new
ideas and follow
them through
Willingness to
learn new ways
of working
Commitment to
continue
support
With respect to engaging with members of the public around community resilience all these
methods will be important at different times and stages.
Evaluation and learning from practice
As the practice of stakeholder engagement develops, the emphasis has shifted away from methods
for engagement towards the whole process of planning, engaging and evaluating. This has come
with the realisation that it is crucial to understand the contexts in terms of people, events,
organisations, and issues when planning any stakeholder engagement. Formal evaluations of
engagement processes are on the increase, but it is by no means a given that they are carried out
alongside every engagement process.
Evaluation is a process of review and analysis to assess the value (including benefits) and quality of a
process according to an agreed framework. This framework should include:
Analysis of activities and results against the objectives of the project, stated and/or implicit.
It is important to include early on in the process questions about the framing of the
objectives and the assumptions that lie behind those objectives.
Analysis of the methods and processes used against agreed principles of good practice.
While evaluations have traditionally focused on assessing inputs (resources put in such as time,
money, etc.), outputs (activities or deliverables, e.g. reports or meetings) and outcomes (results and
impacts), it has become increasingly important to also assess the context within which the project
takes place, and the process used.
Conclusion
The Evidence Review provided the framework through which the case studies were examined.
Specifically, the concepts here of resilience, community, networks/social capital, governance, and
engagement were examined in relation to the emergencies in the case studies. Our underlying
questions were:
To what extent does action in emergencies reflect, build upon and enhance existing
community networks and relationships? and
What factors are facilitators or barriers to improving community resilience?
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3. Case Studies: Overview of Findings
Introduction and approach
Four case studies were chosen to examine the role of community resilience in the context of
emergencies:
Two on flooding (Thirlby, Yorkshire; and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk)
Snow and ice (Gloucestershire)
The summer 2011 civil disorder (riots) in August (specifically, Peckham, London).
The case studies allowed a more detailed understanding of:
How communities respond in the face of adverse events
The factors that facilitate people working together in those situations
The extent to which that community response was linked with and assisted the response by
‘the authorities’/ emergency response organisations.
Research Method
For each case study written material was analysed together with interviews/group discussions with
key people identified through a snowball approach. An interview schedule was developed which
focussed on the areas discussed in the evidence review.
In each of the areas the following people were interviewed.
Thirlby
Seven community members were interviewed all of whom had some role or had had a previous role
within the village: chair to the Parish Meeting, chair of the social committee, previous Chair to the
Parish Meeting, chair of the local history group, a trustee of the village hall, a long standing member
of the village who has previously held a number of official roles in the village, who runs a small
business in the village, and someone involved with the maintenance of the recreation field. In
addition a member of the North Yorkshire Emergency Planning Unit, and the team Leader of Flood
Warning Team, Environment Agency were interviewed. In total nine people were interviewed.
Great Yarmouth
In Great Yarmouth three community members who also had other roles: councillor, assistant
principal of the local academy and local Homewatch co-ordinator were interviewed. Further a small
group discussion was held with community member/councillor, community member, headmistress
and community development worker. The local Emergency Planning Officer, Services Manager and
Neighbourhood Management Worker (all working for the local authority) were also interviewed
along with the Flood Incident Manager, Environment Agency, Anglian Region. In addition, two
community resilience emergency planning groups were attended. In total, seven people were
interviewed, a discussion group was held with a further four people and two meetings were
attended.
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Forest of Dean
In the Forest of Dean the Emergency Planning Officer, Forest of Dean District Council,
Gloucestershire Highways member of staff Gloucestershire Country Council, a member of
Gloucestershire Rural Community Council and the Mayor of Cinderford were interviewed. There
were also two meetings which were noted: Gloucestershire Rural Community Council (GRCC)
meeting. Attendees: Assistant Chief Executive, GRCC; Gloucestershire County Council Councillor and
Lydney Town Councillor; Forest of Dean Rural Advisor, GRCC and Forest of Dean District Council
meeting. Attendees: Forest of Dean District Council, Corporate Support and Emergency Planning
Officer; District Councillor (Cabinet member for community) District Councillor; Team Leader Street
Wardens; Community Engagement Officer and Older People's Lead at District Council; District
Councillor, Welfare Officer for Lydney. In total five people were interviewed and two meetings were
attended.
Peckham
In Peckham two community members were interviewed together with the Head of Community
Engagement, Southwark Borough Council, CEO SafeNSound, a Peckham Settlement member of
staff and a Tenants and Residents Association member. This was complemented with attendance at
post riot meetings: two Peckham Network (initially known as Post-Riot Network) meetings and a
meeting of community organisations and residents with UK riots inquiry panel led by Darra Singh. In
total six people were interviewed and three meetings were attended.
The interviews were guided by an interview schedule developed by the team and recorded if
possible on a digital recorder and then they were transcribed in full. Where circumstances did not
allow for recording, notes were taken.
Analysis
Each of the transcripts were read through by the person who carried out the interviews. Themes
relating to each of the sections of the interview schedule were drawn and discussed at a project
team analysis session. For each case study similarities and differences between the interviewees
were attended to in order to ensure that participants’ views were represented accurately.
Case study summaries: Thirlby, North Yorkshire
In June 2005 intense rainfall occurred in the south west part of the North York Moors, causing the
flooding of 121 properties. Thirlby, a small village of approximately 120 people was under the area
of most intense rainfall and flash flooding destroyed a bridge and washed away some of the roads.
Access was very difficult during the flood, help didn’t arrive immediately, and eventually a helicopter
was used to check on the village. The flood waters subsided within hours and after that access was
difficult but possible. Approximately 18 properties were directly affected, in one case flooding
reached ceiling height and the owners had to escape through an upstairs window. Some of these
affected were out of their properties for over a year. There was no history of flooding and no flood
plans in place.
Residents of the village carried out most of the immediate clearing of trees and other debris. They
helped one another to reach higher ground and to move cars. They also provided temporary
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accommodation, washing, shopping, and meals. They also helped look for lost items and provided
small repairs to properties where possible.
The authorities were involved with repairing the roads and bridges but there has been relatively
little contact with residents and authorities with the exception of the Chair to the Parish meeting
who provided the main link between the village and ‘outsiders’.
Residents felt that they had coped well; they were able to clear up in the immediate aftermath and
support one another physically and emotionally in the longer term. Whilst the extensive community
events were initially reduced they returned to ‘normal’ and continue to thrive six years after the
flood.
Contact with the authorities was limited and the relationships not always successful. The authorities
and other organisations such as service providers (and little distinction is made between the two)
were generally seen as slow and inefficient.
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
This case study centres on the 8th/9th November 2007 tidal surge and consequent danger of
widespread flooding of the Great Yarmouth area. The tidal surge of up to 3 m made its way down
the North Sea and there was the possibility of it coinciding with peak high tides. There was a risk of
flood defences being overtopped on the coast and the tidal rivers in Great Yarmouth as well as other
areas in East Anglia. There were severe flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency at Great
Yarmouth and on parts of the Rivers Bure, Yare, and Waveney all of which flow out to the sea at
Great Yarmouth. Over 1000 people were evacuated to rest centres and approximately 40,000
sandbags were given out to local people. Fortunately the weather changed and the flooding did not
happen, but the plans were activated. After the event there was a clean up of sandbags and of the
rest centres that had been used.
Local people helped each other as they could in terms of supporting those who evacuated, getting
sandbags and looking after people’s possessions. There was a sense of the local people not feeling
prepared and that the communication between them and the emergency services could have been
improved. The emergency services worked together to carry out the evacuation and distributing
sandbags including getting more sandbags from other authorities. Police came from other
authorities to knock on doors and support the process. Rest centres were set up and rest centre
managers were brought in from outside the area.
Since the “near miss” a number of developments have happened to support community resilience
most notably the setting up of four community resilience groups around the four urban areas. The
aim of these groups is to be the interface between the local people and the different groups (e.g.
Homewatch, youth clubs, schools, tenants and resident associations). These groups are variously
developing their community resilience plans with a focus on the development of communication
trees that could be used in an emergency situation. In addition, in October 2011 one area had an
“emergencies week” where they engaged with older people through stories of the 1953 flood and
children from the local primary school raised awareness through a loud and noisy walk through the
area, asking people if they were prepared and handing out leaflets. There were also events at the
school to draw in parents.
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In terms of the key things that worked well, people in the local area did help each other out drawing
on existing bonded networks, the emergency services worked well together and the plans for
evacuation were effective. Since 2007 the development of the Community Resilience groups and
their progress in resilience planning is very promising together with the linking of the community
development with community resilience and other networks. Finally, the “emergencies week”
worked very well.
In terms of what did not work so well, although people acted they did not feel prepared and did not
feel they knew what to do in the event. Communication between local people and the emergency
services was not as effective as it could be. The use of outsiders did not help relationships of trust
e.g. in door knocking and at rest centres, which in turn led to a less efficient response.
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Along with many parts of the UK, the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire experienced adverse or
severe winter weather over the last three winters (2008-9, 2009-10 and 2010-11), following a series
of generally milder winters. This case study focuses on how those living in the Forest of Dean, also
known as the Forest, responded when affected by a number of occurrences of this weather. It
therefore covers a large number of villages, hamlets and three towns in the Forest (Coleford,
Cinderford and Lydney). These occurrences have sometimes seen tens of centimetres of snow, with
adverse conditions sometimes extending for more than a week. Icy road conditions, ongoing low
temperatures and the Forest topography are often more problematic than snowfall levels.
The last three winters created particularly difficult conditions in terms of access in and out of towns
and villages or from the Forest to elsewhere. Whilst access on the main roads was maintained,
access on other roads was typically challenging, sometimes treacherous and sometimes too
dangerous for many vehicles. Some villages and hamlets in the Forest were only accessible using
four wheel drive vehicles, sometimes for a period of several days and, in the case of some minor side
roads, for more than a week.
For both authorities and the local population the severe winter weather constrains or curtails travel
(and distribution) and both adjust to the challenges this creates. This case study focuses on the
experiences of the last three winters but sometimes discusses these in general terms, given that this
severe weather has become a more familiar occurrence.
Many towns and villages see heightened levels of neighbourliness: existing social networks, both
formal and informal, are activated with volunteers assisting health and social services providers e.g.
by attending to the needs of the more vulnerable in the area or through use of 4x4 so that these
providers can still deliver their services.
The overall response by the authorities (those not involved in snow clearance) can be summarised as
delivery of services as far as possible and in accordance with their business continuity plans, focusing
on ensuring the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
In general, the response is characterised by a ‘getting by’ approach, with many people modifying
their day to day lifestyles and reaching out to support others locally through acts of neighbourliness
(e.g. snow clearance, co-ordinating shopping, distributing medication, offering lifts in 4x4s, checking
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on or providing reassurance to more vulnerable people or those that are geographically isolated).
However, there are exceptions with some individuals or households preferring isolation and having a
tendency to ‘hunker down’ until the adverse weather eases.
Authorities and residents in the Forest are, in general, better able to respond to the severe weather
given the experience of the last three winters which followed several years of relatively mild winters.
Some towns have been acquiring grit and salt and circulating supplies amongst shop owners in town
centres in advance of winter. There is better understanding within the Forest that clearing snow and
ice from paths will not result in potential liabilities should accidents still occur on cleared paths.
Coleford Town Council has secured hand salters to facilitate salt spreading on footpaths. Overall
both the authorities and residents of the Forest are starting to be more prepared. The process of
developing emergency response plans is facilitating parish level approaches and responses to
adverse situations.
Peckham, South London
On Monday 8th August, following a weekend of disturbances in Tottenham, north London, there was
an afternoon and evening of rioting across London. In Peckham, south east London, confrontations
between young people and the police in the area around the bus station, rapidly escalated to
running battles along Peckham High Street with missiles thrown and shop windows broken. The
police were slow in sending reinforcements and were not able to control the disturbances which
spread south up Rye Lane, the main shopping street. At this stage the rioting seems to have begun
to give way to looting with other types of people, including older people, getting involved. As well as
the attacks on well-known chains like Burger King and the targeting of shops like off-licences for
looting, there was also random destruction and a small clothes shop on Rye Lane was set on fire.
The disturbances continued until late into the night and got as far as East Dulwich.
During the riots, many local people took action to stop the damage from active intervention on the
part of youth workers to encourage young people not to get involved, individual acts of heroism e.g.
saving stock from a burning shop, defence of local estates by local people through to people who
spent the evening locked in fear inside their homes.
In terms of what happened next, the following day Council workers were out very early clearing up
the debris: by 10am all the broken glass had been removed and broken windows boarded up.
However, at the same time, people were turning up with their brooms in response to a London-wide
tweet (#postriot) but finding that everything had been done. There wasn’t much that helpers could
do because the shops and businesses were waiting for the police and forensic teams to come; after
that most of the businesses wanted to clean up by themselves.
Peckham Shed, a local organisation that uses theatre to work with young people, felt so moved by
what had happened that they took their own initiative by writing a simple message of "We love
Peckham because...." on the boarded up Poundland shop on Rye Lane. They gave out coloured Post-
it notes and pens and invited people to offer messages of good will. The hundreds of messages
quickly became an iconic image of the recovery from the riots and has been seen in newspapers and
websites around the world.
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Southwark Council called an emergency meeting 36 hours after the rioting which involved residents’
leaders, community organizations and youth groups and gave people a chance to raise their issues.
In terms of what has happened since the event, the Council organised a number of other meetings
with the community after this initial meeting. These were more formal events with a Q&A format
and an emphasis on what would happen (e.g. emergency fund for businesses). One local voluntary
organisation says that the meetings also provided an opportunity for people to get a sense of the
work being done by other organisations and that this was a surprise to many.
In this context a number of community organisations decided to hold a meeting which would be
multi-faith, multi-sector and multi-interest. This was the starting point for an initiative to create a
community network, which met three times between August and November.
In terms of what worked well, opportunities were created for people to express emotional
responses to the emergency. This came out as ‘rants’ in two meetings organised by the Council in
the days immediately after the riots and was reflected in the messages posted on the Peckham
Peace Wall which became a channel for these strong emotions.
The relationship between official agents (the police and Southwark Council) was felt by the Council
to have worked well, with effective communication and collaboration. Relationships and networks
between the official structures and the local community have been nurtured and established over a
long period of time. The community has demonstrated lots of examples of resilience, at the very
minimum a determination to keep going but there are many examples that going beyond coping,
that offer some very positive signs that people want to build a stronger community.
Since the disturbances the Borough Council has been actively engaging with residents through
‘community conversations’, street stalls and a questionnaire. The authority is keen to obtain the
views of the community and find out what they think caused the civil disorder, what the impact is
and what can be done to help people and businesses. This has provided a channel for people to be
able to put forward their views, albeit in a formalised setting.
In terms of what went less well, the police response was felt by many local people not to have been
effective in limiting the impact on local businesses and to reflect aggressive approaches to young
people which have been the subject of concern in the past Obviously there were tensions there and
there were issues in terms of people’s trust of the police etc which is one of the things that has been
said to us since”. (Southwark Council Community Engagement)
While the Council’s idea of holding ‘community conversations’ was welcomed, there were a few
concerns about the format and outcomes of these events. In particular, it was felt that the formal
setting had excluded many of the people that the Council should have been talking to, like young
people and people in more deprived neighbourhoods. Furthermore, it was not always clear what
would come out of the meetings.
Lack of leadership and communications during the rioting and in the early stages of the response:
youth workers couldn’t communicate with the police, people wanted to volunteer but didn’t know
how, etc.
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4. Themes Arising from the Case Studies
This aim of this section is to draw out the findings from the case studies and reflect on them in
relation to the evidence presented in the review. The case studies have provided us with an
opportunity to see how some of the key concepts and ideas work in practice as well as providing
new insights.
Once the case studies had been analysed individually, the workshop and a project team meeting led
to drawing out seven key themes from the data and then discussed in relation to the evidence. The
six themes are presented in the box below:
Themes arising from the case studies
1. The role of networks social capital in action
2. Types of resilience
3. The role of leaders and influential individuals
4. Governance clash of cultures?
5. Perceptions of community and identity
6. Building community resilience to emergencies starting where people are
7. Perception of the hazard and its relation to community resilience.
The role of networks social capital in action
The case studies provided a number of examples of how different types of network worked during
the different events.
Bonding social capital
There was evidence of some bonded networks being drawn upon in different ways in all of the four
case studies. People linked through communities of place and helped each other with many tasks
from making cups of tea (GY), providing food (T); helping with shopping (FoD), through to bigger task
such as defending local shops (P); clearing debris and trees (T); getting sand from beaches for
sandbags (GY) and clearing snow (FoD). These bonded networks were based in communities of
place from a street where neighbours knew each other (GY) to the village of Thirlby. In Peckham as
well as drawing on communities of place, organisations and people working with young people in
the area intervened to stop those that they knew from getting involved in violence, drawing on
bonded capital developed through working with people in the local area.
In terms of the effectiveness of these bonded networks within the events, people in Thirlby felt they
had coped very well and had little time for the emergency services, they had just got on with it and
sorted things out themselves. This fitted with their community identity of being self-resilient. In
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Great Yarmouth, whilst people did take action, which was vital, there was a sense of being
unprepared and operating in a state of confusion or “a bit of a panic
3
.
As well as the events revealing the existing bonded networks in the different case studies, it also
highlighted where those bonds did not exist and this acted as a catalyst for action: residents in one
street in Peckham invited their neighbours to meet at the local pub to get to know each other so
that they would not feel the isolation they felt during the riots in the future. In Great Yarmouth
there was a feeling that since the event
It could be said that bonded social capital definitely helped people manage in the events. However,
these networks are partial, likely to cover only certain areas, for example, there were people in
Peckham who were so frightened they stayed indoors and locked their doors, feeling more resilient
alone than with others.
Bridging social capital
As discussed in the evidence review, the concept of the “therapeutic community” that often
emerges around a disaster is an example of bridging social capital people who previously did not
know each other coming together united by the shared experience of the event. In terms of the
case studies there was some evidence of this happening in Great Yarmouth: I think it became
stronger, people were more aware, and I think people made friends through it……….Which is quite
strange because people then got to know their neighbours and they’re sort of more, I don’t know
they just seem more for each other and to look after each more now whereas before it was just hello
(community member, Great Yarmouth).
Since the events, different mechanisms are bringing together people from different parts of the local
area and developing bridging capital:
Specific groups around community resilience planning: in Great Yarmouth the four
community resilience groups that have been set up are bringing together a range of people
connected with the local areas: e.g. councillors, neighbourhood watch, church members,
resident and tenants associations, community development workers and schools to work on
the community resilience process and plan. Similarly, the Gloucestershire Rural Community
Council is bringing people together through community resilience planning.
General networks to bring organisations together: the Peckham Network is being developed,
which has come out of a recognition for the need for coordination and joint initiatives across
the local area.
Events around specific hazard: in Great Yarmouth there was an “emergencies week”
organised through the local community resilience group supported by the emergency
3
When applied to disaster situations, the word ‘panic’ is generally understood to describe dysfunctional or hysterical
escape-focused behaviour (Wachtendorf et al., 2011). However, what many decades of research has shown is that
examples of true ‘panic’ during disaster events are exceedingly rare (Clarke, 2002, Tierney et al., 2006, Quarantelli, 2008,
Fischhoff, 2008). People’s behaviour during emergencies and disasters is much more likely to exhibit helpfulness and
consideration toward others (Ibid.; Solnit, 2009). In this context, therefore, the feelings of fear and confusion that
interviewees in Great Yarmouth may in retrospect have described as their “bit of a panic”, should be understood as more
likely describing reasonable responses to frightening and confusing circumstances. This is not ‘panic’, because that would
imply that these people were no longer capable of making rational decisions on available information, which is most
unlikely to have been the case
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planning manager and the community development team. They engaged with older people
through stories of the 1953 flood, and then asked leaders of those groups to be part of the
communications tree: “And what we did with the groups, so we went to St Mary’s, St Luke’s
and Manor Close, older people’s groups, what we’ve done there is the leaders of the group
are now key contacts on the communication tree (community development worker, Great
Yarmouth). The children from the local primary school raised awareness through a loud and
noisy walk through the area, asking people if they were prepared and handing out leaflets.
There were also events at the school to draw in parents.
Bridging social capital is important because it brings in a wider range of resources that can be drawn
upon during an emergency. The community resilience planning process provides a systematic
approach to bringing different local actors together and articulating what resources are available to
them e.g. first aiders, people who can provide accommodation etc. What seems to emerge from
Great Yarmouth and Peckham is that there need to be proactive measures taken to facilitate
bridging capital otherwise the pockets of bonded social capital will be left to fend for themselves and
those who are not connected to anyone are likely to be negatively impacted.
Linking social capital
The presence and absence of linking social capital in the immediate response was expressed
differently across the four case studies.
Presence of linking social capital “stepped approach”: In the Forest of Dean local activities
by bonded networks were supported by more formal efforts by charities such as WRVS, Age
Concern and the council social services who linked in with volunteer 4x4 owners to help with
delivery of services, and these links were considered to be effective: We are quite lucky in
the forest that a lot of the agencies like the voluntary sector, the private sector, the public...
that everybody works together and they talk, and they know who everybody is and that
works very well. (Forest of Dean District Council Employee). This can be thought of as a
“stepped approach”, that is, rather than an emergency responder working directly with local
people, instead different groups/organisations provide steps or links between the larger
groups and members of the public, with bonds of trust evident at each level.
The role of “change agents”: Within this “stepped approach” the case studies provide
evidence of people within organisations who play a vital role in providing steps between
members of the public and organisations involved in emergency response. These can be
referred to as “change agents”. Specifically, within Gloucestershire there is a network of
“village agents” who are there to help the over 50s in particular to make contact with
agencies who are able to provide the services which they may need. In terms of the snow
and ice events in Gloucestershire they play a vital role with respect to locating vulnerable
people: Village Agents know the vulnerable people. If they were worried, they could raise
alarm bells. Every parish I go to, they all know their Village Agent. And each [snow] warden
knows their village agent and vice versa.” (Forest of Dean District Council Employee).
Absence of effective linking social capital: The absence of linking social capital was
responded to different ways:
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o No linking social capital, but not regarded as a problem: In Thirlby, where people felt
that their networks had worked well, they were somewhat disparaging about the
emergency services. As one community member recalls, "I remember at the time of
the flood that the lieutenant, whoever he is, and a chief constable and various people
came round and it was like poison to people in Thirlby who were suffering from the
flood, these people coming round to polish your forehead and tell you that it was
going to be alright… Everybody said that if they’d got out of their car with a shovel it
would have been a completely different thing". Whilst during the event the chair of
the parish meeting acted as the link between the emergency services and
authorities there was no linking capital. This is perhaps related to the feeling that
they had all the resources they needed to cope within the local community.
o No linking social capital seen as a problem: In Great Yarmouth linking capital was
not in place as the local headmistress said Because at that time there were no
structures in place to deal with it, nothing at all.” This was highlighted in the
response to the use of police from outside Great Yarmouth to knock on doors to
evacuate people, it was felt that there should be trusted faces door knocking and
also people who knew where to go in the local area. This was seen as a problem in
the event and was one thing that catalysed the developments around the
community resilience planning process. In Peckham it was felt that some
community leaders feel that they could have been more effective in stopping people
from destroying their own neighbourhoods and the livelihood of local businesses if
there had been better understanding with the police.
Presence and absence of linking social capital: In Peckham the situation with respect to
relations between the police and the local people was more complex. In general, the police
operation aimed to clear everyone from the streets and there was no differentiation
between people who were trying to help and those involved in the rioting. This meant that
some youth workers and organizations felt disempowered because they had no way of
communicating with the police. However, there was evidence of some linking social capital,
between one organisation: SafeNSound and the police. SafeNSound was very active on
the night of the rioting and was able to help direct cars and people away from the area and
to avoid some of the actions of those involved in the rioting. The fact that organisation’s
CEO is a member of a police advisory group meant that she was in regular contact with the
police and could show an identification when she was out on the streets.
The events have acted as catalysts for actions to improve linking capital in some cases. In Great
Yarmouth, the neighbourhood management teams who work to develop the local community in the
urban areas have acted as “change agents” along with the emergency planning manager to support
the development of linking capital between local people and organisations dealing with
emergencies. This has taken a stepped approach. One example is where local women have been
empowered through the community development work to organise around youth issues and run a
youth club which has developed links with the local school and over time has become a hub for the
local area and runs classes and courses as needed (The Den, Life Changes). In turn the emergency
planning manager working with the neighbourhood management team is facilitating a community
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resilience group on which a representative from The Den, Life Changes sits alongside the
headmistress of the school. This is a great example of how linking social capital can be developed.
Types of resilience
The case studies provide further evidence for how resilience is enacted within emergency events and
what happened after those events in terms of what was considered necessary to develop resilience.
What is interesting here is the interaction between the type of hazard: its nature (man-made,
natural); speed of onset (rapid ongoing) and previous experience of that hazard. These aspects
emerge as impacting on the types of resilience exhibited at different times of the emergency cycle.
Resilience as resistance holding the line
There are a number of examples of resistance within the case studies. In terms of the snow and ice
in the Forest of Dean, this manifested itself as “carrying on regardless” to an extent, that at times
might have been hazardous, for example people driving in treacherous conditions because of the
need to be in work to get paid, almost ignoring the hazard.
In Peckham, resistance was manifest as defence and negotiation: people grouped together to
defend local shops from rioters and those involved with young people tried to dissuade them from
joining in the violence and to go home. Defence, of a different kind was manifest in Great Yarmouth
with the rush for and distribution of sandbags. Both these were examples of direct intervention to
prevent greater damage from the event.
Resilience as bounce-back
Again there was evidence of resilience as bounce-back, returning to normal as might be expected. In
Forest of Dean emphasis was on clearing roads, and making sure services ran as normal. In Peckham
some members of the community have returned to their everyday activities in the hopes that the
rioting was a “one-off”. In Thirlby, the overall approach to resilience was that of bounce-back, the
community felt themselves to have been very resilient and that this helped them to ‘bounce-back’ to
normal. Some felt that there had been a strengthening of the local bonds and sense of community
but they did not want to express this as a change in the community.
In Great Yarmouth it would seem that people did manage, the resilience seemed mostly to be a
muddling through at the level of local people, relying on existing networks for support and
immediate help. In terms of the approach it might be characterised as “bounce back” a desire to
get back to normal as quickly as possible.
Resilience as adaptation
In Thirlby there has been a certain amount of reflection upon the event and consideration of lessons
learnt by the Parish Meeting and the history group. These have considered emergencies generally,
not just floods in particular. As the flood is considered by many to be a ‘one off’ there has been little
engagement with flood issues. Also some of those flooded do not want to be reminded of the event.
In terms of change, or adaptation little has been done in order to formalise plans. However, since
the flood the Environment Agency has identified Thirlby as an area susceptible to ‘extreme flash
flooding’. The Environment Agency has approached Thirlby through a gathering of the Parish
Meeting. There was some interest expressed in the idea of an emergency plan although concerns
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were raised regarding the expected time and resource it would take. A plan has not yet been
created and it appears unlikely this will happen for all the reasons considered in terms of the type of
community Thirlby is. The Environment Agency intends to contact Thirlby in January 2012 so a more
formal plan remains a possibility for the future.
In one area of Great Yarmouth, Cobholm it was felt that people were now better able to deal with
similar situations, there was an expression of adaptation to the possibility of a future hazard. In
terms of the emergency services it was more organised and co-ordinated partly with an emphasis on
keeping things going as normal (e.g. ambulance service) but also clearly planning for the complete
disruption of a flood by evacuating large numbers of people at risk, so in that sense adapting.
Resilience as transformation
In Peckham many local voluntary organisations, while the context of the riots created the possibility
of transformative action, the constraints of their funding situations made it hard to do anything
more than bounce back: Everything quite quickly went back to business as usual. Especially for
voluntary organisations that don’t have any money and can’t take on additional work. Funded
community organisations have more resources to look at what more can be done. (Community
organisation, Peckham)
In terms of resilience since the 2007 event, in one area: Southtown it was felt that there the event
had had a positive effect on bringing people together which had continued so that it was considered
that the community in Southtown was stronger, and that the event had had a transforming effect
but that it was an continuous process to maintain awareness and engagement in flooding. For some
in Cobholm, another part of Great Yarmouth, thought the effect of the near miss did transform their
lives because they decided to leave. As one councillor/community member said what I’ve found is
a lot of people who have been here for some time have actually moved out, they’ve had
enough…..That really was… being moved yeah, which was nice people but they’ve just had enough
and they took to the hills of Gorleston”.
The role of leaders and influential individuals
What is clear from the case studies is that there are both individuals and roles, and sometimes a
combination of the two that can have a powerful influence on what actions take place in terms of
community resilience. Often it is said that people have certain personalities that make them able to
support, influence and lead groups and certainly some people find that type of work comes more
naturally than for other, however, it is worth unpacking those characteristics and considering to
what extent the nurturing of those characteristics among local people is part of community
resilience. We recognise that much is written on leadership and we are not able to cover that in this
document, rather we are pulling out some key issues from the case studies.
In three of the case studies there were key individuals identified:
Great Yarmouth: Emergency Planning Manager, Neighbourhood Management worker,
Community member/The Den, Life Changes worker
Thirlby: Chair to the Parish Meeting, Community member from a long standing Thirlby family
Peckham: CEO of SafeNSound
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The characteristics of these people include:
Trust from local people, which is built up over time and circumstance:
o From the way they have managed a formal role with local people e.g. Emergency
Planning Manager and Neighbourhood Management worker in Great Yarmouth.
Both these people have a strong belief in empowering local people to act and work
with that ethos, recognising the importance of relationship building and network
development.
o From their informal interactions within their communities which have then
developed into more formal roles: e.g. The Den, Life Changes worker and the CEO of
SafeNSound. Both these individuals were known and respected in their local
communities. With respect to Great Yarmouth she was encouraged to develop the
idea for the Den and its activities by the community development worker and over
time she has become confident in a range of situations.
o From their “place” in the community e.g. Community member from a long standing
Thirlby family. The size and nature of Thirlby is such that influence comes with
having lived there a long time, and this individual is part of a family that has been
there for several generations. In addition, that “place” can be earnt through a
willingness to participate and contribute to village life.
Belief in change and vision of that change:
o In Great Yarmouth and Peckham it was clear that these key individuals saw the need
for change in some way and worked with a vision of what that might look like. For
example Peckham SafeNSound was set up by a former gang member with the
vision of supporting young people and looking holistically at the issues they face.
Because of the links she had with local young people and the police, on the night of
the riot she was able to help calm situations down and encourage young people not
to get involved in violence. In Great Yarmouth, the worker at The Den, Life Changes
felt there was nothing for young people to do and so was encouraged to start a
youth club, she had a vision of helping young people to make positive life choices.
o In terms of the Emergency Planning Manager in Great Yarmouth he sees a very clear
role for local people within emergency planning and how that might be linked to
community development, and this vision is largely shared with the neighbourhood
management team.
Good social skills the ability often to talk to people from a wide range of backgrounds and
perspectives, from the chief of police to a local teenager.
Supportive systems: for these individuals to be able to play the roles that they do and be
influential they need to be situated in supportive systems, be those social or organisational.
In Great Yarmouth, The Den, Life Changes worker has been encouraged to have confidence
in her views and opinions and now is happy talking in meetings and putting her point across.
For the chair of the Parish Meeting in Thirlby to be effective in the emergency it was
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important to have the support from the informal networks of the village. Likewise, the CEO
of SafeNSound had an existing relationship with the police and so was allowed to help in
managing the situation on the night of the riots, whereas other youth workers who were not
known to the police were asked to leave the area.
As discussed, these influential individuals have certain characteristics, but what is interesting is the
approach taken in Great Yarmouth a sort of “grow your own” approach to leaders. Using their -
engage-involve-empower” approach to community development people can be encouraged to take
on leadership roles such as the Den, Life Changes worker, rather than presuming that they must be
parachuted in from outside.
Governance
What is clear from the case studies is that the governance of the emergency management cycle is
complex. It is a multi-actored and multi-layered system. Community resilience in the sense of local
people taking a role within that system in order to help themselves and others is not
straightforward. A number of issues are raised by the case studies around the interface between the
“official” system of Category 1 and 2 responders, Gold, Silver and Bronze command and the
“unofficial” system of neighbours helping each other, people unsure of what to do and community
organisations helping out.
Certainly within the emergency situation itself the “official” system is a command and control
approach, which is appropriate given the urgency of decisions and the potential for problems if
actions are not taken quickly. For the Gold and Silver command the aim is to manage the situation
effectively and quickly and in the case of Great Yarmouth that required help from outside the county
in the form of police to help with door knocking and sandbags. In Peckham there was an emphasis
on getting the streets cleared and people back into their homes This formal structure met with the
spontaneous actions of local people and in some cases the system was able to accommodate those
local actions and in others it was not.
For example, in Peckham some community workers who were there to help encourage people off
the street were told to go home because they were not recognised by the police they did not fit
into the system. However, those who were known to the police e.g. the CEO of SafeNSound were
able to contribute. The importance of having developed relationships before an emergency is
highlighted by this example.
In Thirlby there was relatively little contact between the authorities and the community during the
flood. By the time the authorities had access there was comparatively little to be done immediately,
but it was agreed that local people still carrying out cleaning up work with heavy machinery would
be paid for their time. There was no contact with the authorities prior to the flood as it had not
been predicted. In this case the system was able to accommodate and support local community
actions and recognise the work that the local community had carried out. This is an interesting
example of local people working with the emergency responders.
In Great Yarmouth the community resilience plans being developed are carefully focussed on
complementing the command and control system that operates in an emergency. This is through
the development of a communications tree, where one person is contacted with information and
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that cascades out to others, and information on vulnerable people, etc can also be sent up the
chain”. This provision of information locally could avoid the problems faced by the Environment
Agency in 2007 when their Floodline system on the website was overwhelmed, which though
positive because it showed that the levels of awareness were very high, however: We had
something called Floodline …….which was totally overwhelmed frankly. We just couldn’t get the calls
answered…... normally on our Environment Agency website we get a thousand hits in a day, normally
in terms of flooding things, that might get up to 10-20,000. On the night before we had this flood
457,000 - that’s the kind of magnitude of increase, we have now had to build up to deal with”
(Environment Agency manager).
The interface between official responders and local communities is not straightforward, and indeed
in Great Yarmouth people questioned whether the emergency services wanted them to be involved,
whether they were geared up for working with local people and how they viewed local people. As
one councillor in Great Yarmouth said: Well let’s say this, we went to a meeting at the fire station
which is local to us. It’s in my area, and because they’d had a change of quite a lot of different levels
of personnel, nobody knew about us. And it seemed that they were having a project that was sort of
semi-similar to what we were doing, but really didn’t want to know about us because, who were
we?..........And I think that you will get this in lots of organisation, ‘who are you’, dismiss it, you know.
‘We’re the big boys’”. Understanding how local action is viewed by responders and how to engage
with it effectively is a key part of community resilience.
Perceptions of community and identity
In terms of perceptions of community and identity three aspects were identified in the case studies
that are worth reflecting on.
Firstly, it was clear that in Thirlby, being self-reliant and therefore not dependent on others is a key
part of their identity as a community. People are proud of their self-reliance which is seen as a key
factor in their resilience. This view that it was better to get on and do things yourself within the
village was expressed as the opinion of both those born there and those who had moved in more
recently. As one community member who has lived there nearly 30 years notes I think part of what
makes Thirlby work is that there is a strong feeling that you can get everything that you need in
Thirlby and that when outside agencies come in, it’s not a very satisfactory outcome usually. I think
that sums it up”. Similarly when asked whether it would be helpful to have local authority
involvement in organising an emergency response, another community member replied, “Thirlby
would say, when I say “Thirlby” that’s the people born and bred here, who are the majority probably
still, I’m sure they would say, No, dammit, let’s do it ourselves, it’ll be more efficient”. There is a
feeling by many that self-reliance is more effective and so outside assistance is avoided. Self-
reliance as part of identity was also in evidence in the Forest of Dean, people know each other and
there is strong familiarity and identity associated with the area with some people in the Forest
referring to themselves and other residents as ‘Foresters’ as this quote illustrates: I've lived here
most of my life. I think it's a very old-fashioned type community. Everybody knows one another and
you will look out for one another. (District Council employee).
Secondly, in Peckham expressions of community solidarity emerged after the riot, in a way disparate
groups all expressed their pride in Peckham and were encouraged to do so through the peace wall
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which was Peckham Shed, a local organisation that uses theatre to work with young people, felt so
moved by what had happened that they took their own initiative. Southwark Council’s website
describes what happened: In the immediate aftermath of the riots a local theatre company wrote a
simple message of "We love Peckham because...." on the boarded up Poundland shop on Rye Lane.
They then began to hand out coloured Post-it notes and pens and invited people to offer messages of
good will. The hundreds of messages quickly became an iconic image of the recovery from the riots
and has been seen in newspapers and websites around the world.
Thirdly, the importance of working with perceived community boundaries was stressed both in
Thirlby and Great Yarmouth. In Great Yarmouth it was in terms of spatial boundaries, with the
Emergency Planning Manager giving a good example of how they had thought to include on area:
Halfway House in with another area Gorleston and did suggest they meet together but Halfway
House pulled out of it: Although, and it is in Gorelston and so when we were looking at division of
the community resilience plans, we actually suggested Halfway House should be part of
Gorleston……..Absolutely, we’re Halfway House, and that was really strong, so we managed to
suggest that we should have at Gorelston and actually be part of it but they came out of it in the
end…..”.
Finally, we encountered spatial, social and cognitive aspects of community. The spatial aspect was
clear in Thirlby, Great Yarmouth and Forest of Dean where belonging to a specific location with
specific boundaries was important, and as the Great Yarmouth example shows, if those boundaries
are not respected then communities may feel less likely to engage with resilience building activities.
In terms of social aspects of community, or perhaps more communities of interest, Peckham seems
quite a good example where there are a number of different communities brought together in one
location around specific issues or interests (faith, youth etc) but with little connection with other
groups in that place. The Council organised a number of other meetings with the community after
this initial meeting. These were more formal events with a Q&A format and an emphasis on what
would happen (e.g. emergency fund for businesses). One local voluntary organisation said that the
meetings also provided an opportunity for people to get a sense of the work being done by other
organisations and that this was a surprise to many: Again there were a lot of people going, ‘Wow!
I didn’t know that you existed!” (Community organisation 2).
Building community resilience starting where people are
A clear theme emerged from the case studies around the organic, long term, ongoing nature of
building community resilience which can be summarised as starting where people are because that
is where the networks exist and can be developed into support during emergencies.
In Thirlby for example, the existing networks developed over time, place and relationship proved to
be strong during the flash flood. Understanding that self-reliance is part of the community’s identity
yet the importance of being linked to the authorities in case of another flood means that a gradual
approach to plan making needs to be taken, one which builds on the existing networks and
leadership to ensure that they are supported as needed.
In Peckham what emerged was the fact that there are many groups within the area that are not
linked together, together with a recognition of the value of building those links so that more
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resources could be drawn on in an emergency. So building those community links is a priority before
considering community resilience although it could be used as a focus. Similarly, it was revealed that
in some areas people are isolated and do not know their neighbours so developing that bonding
social capital is important work to be done.
In Great Yarmouth the approach to community development is enabling the work of community
resilience by providing links to local networks and skills. Without the community development work
people would not feel empowered to get involved in the community resilience work and those
networks on which the community resilience relies would not be in place.
Perception of the hazard and its relation to community resilience
The case studies brought out the importance of the perception of the hazard and its relation to
community resilience. Firstly, there are the cases where the hazard is clear and likely to happen
again, e.g. Great Yarmouth. Here, grouping around community resilience with flooding often as a
focus is regarded as sensible by local people given the probability of it happening again. The flood
risk maps provide key information on the extent of the potential damage which can be helpful for
planning responses.
In Thirlby, the situation has been less clear, and there was a sense that the flash flood was a one off,
and it was felt that having a plan was not necessary. Since the flood in 2005 the Environment Agency
has identified Thirlby as an area susceptible to ‘extreme flash flooding’. ‘Extreme flash flooding has
been defined as where a river or stream reacts very rapidly to rainfall and generates large flood
depths or velocities of water that pose an extreme threat to life’. The nature of flash flooding makes
it very difficult to predict and provide warnings. The Environment Agency through their Rapid
Response Catchment Project aim to ensure that all those living and working in catchments that have
the potential to suffer from extreme flash flooding are made aware of the hazard and know what to
do should they encounter flash flooding. The Environment Agency has approached Thirlby through a
gathering of the Parish Meeting. There was some interest expressed in the idea of an emergency
plan although concerns were raised regarding the expected time and resource it would take. A plan
has not yet been created but the Environment Agency intends to contact Thirlby in January 2012 so
a more formal plan remains a possibility for the future.
In Peckham, perhaps given the nature of the event i.e. one over which people have control, there
has been a sense of wanting to ensure that whatever the causes of the civil disorder, there is a need
for the community to build better links within its organisations and to provide support for
disaffected young people.
Finally, in the Forest of Dean, given three winters with severe weather there is a recognition of this
as becoming a “new normal”, and structures and plans are developing accordingly.
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5. Lessons from the Case Studies
This section provides the general lessons that have come from the case studies.
Thirlby
General lessons from this case study for improving community resilience
Develop knowledge of the existing communities (of place, of interest). This required by
external organisations and people in local areas. Ensure that communities that do exist are
able to define their own boundaries. Allow time to research the community and its
organisations. Talk with local people from a range of backgrounds. Ask local people about
how they define their local community. Be prepared to work with differing viewpoints.
Raise awareness of responders of the potential roles of more informal organisations and
networks as well as the more formal structures such as the Parish. Investigate the informal
structures present and think creatively how they might be involved. Consider whether there
is the potential to create links between existing groups so that they can work together.
Some examples of the types of groups that might be considered local history groups, play
groups, school based groups, book clubs, Women’s Institutes (WI), art/craft groups,
exercise/sport groups, civic societies, Neighbourhood Watch, local environmental issues
groups, groups based around a specific ethnic identity, religious groups.
Ensure that there is an attitude of openness and trust from emergency responders, external
organisations in their dealings with people in local areas. Avoid excessive secrecy, respond
promptly to questions, and communicate frequently through a variety of channels.
Understand that solutions are unlikely to be effective if they imposed on local areas, it is
necessary to work with the community to find something acceptable. When approaching
local people to engage in developing emergency plans stress that they will help create this
and discuss a range of ideas for possible formats.
Great Yarmouth
General lessons from this case study for improving community resilience
Work with existing social networks to develop the both the underlying resources and links
and the structures to facilitate an effective response that complements the emergency
services: two practical ways to do this,
a) EPM to work with local people to develop existing networks so they can be drawn upon
in a systematic way during an emergency, e.g. in terms of locating vulnerable people,
door knocking and providing local knowledge to outside organisations
b) Work with rest centre “owners” e.g. schools to ensure that whoever runs them is aware
of local issues and clearly links with the relevant on site personnel. It may be that the
rest centre owners wish to staff it themselves with volunteers and this should be
complemented with training and support from the EPM.
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Be prepared for community resilience groups to look different in different areas: to be
effective they will need time to develop and will reflect the local area so networks will not
be uniform. This means that EPM’s need to be able to ask the right questions to find out
where the key networks are, rather than having a prescriptive list of which groups to go to.
Recognise that the resources that are drawn upon to build community resilience are
developed when there are no emergencies through empowering community members and
then giving them tools to use in emergencies that link with the authorities and wider
information sources and networks. This is a key lesson and indicates that links should be
made across departments within local councils but also at the national level to develop an
awareness and understanding that many other aspects of government work e.g. education,
social services, work etc are crucial in developing resources that can be drawn upon during
an emergency. However, those resources have to be systematically organised and linked
into the Emergency Planning and Local Resilience system.
Use local knowledge to improve engagement with local people: trusted faces are more likely
to get messages acted upon and local people will know where those who are vulnerable live
and what their needs might be. Developing a system e.g. communications tree that can be
activated in an emergency but builds on existing networks.
Develop two way communication with local people and emergency services. ‘That’s where
for me the main linkage are the contact people on the ground through which we
communicate. Through them we communicate and they communicate to us on their
concerns and questions, and so on. It’s as much establishing that communication to the
people on the ground, the residents, as much as anything else. That’s where it’s part of the
process.’ (EPM)
Understand that bridging and linking social capital are key to move people from a “getting
by” type of resilience to a “bouncing forward” type of resilience. It is clear from this case
study that having the links between different groups in the community (bridges) and
between local people and service providers has enabled the development of the Community
Resilience Plan and more importantly the communications tree and the awareness raising
exercises of Emergencies Week.
Understand that the process of planning is as, if not more, important than the plan itself
(although it is still important to have one!). Getting community resilience groups going and
motivated takes time, but through that process of inviting people, of discussion and debate
relationships of trust are developed which can then be drawn upon during an emergency.
Be aware that building trust is a key principle in the development of effective governance
and strong networks. This involves regular, personal contact between agents. Face-to-face
contact appears to be a particularly effective, and possibly essential, way to build trust.
Know that individuals can make a big difference in terms of linking organizations together
and building trust and these people can be “locally grown”. An important characteristic of
individuals is that they have strong communication skills and are able to empathize with
people and communities. They need to take a very active role in promoting collaboration
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and dissemination of information, and this is undertaken through regular personal, often
face-to-face, contact with stakeholders to build trust and co-operation. Such individual must
also be sensitive to each particular (local community) context and be aware of a
community’s needs, resources and abilities.
Forest of Dean
General lessons from this case study in terms of improving community resilience
Social networks, both formal and informal, are essential to ensuring resilience. Trust and
knowledge of individuals is key to maintaining and enhancing these networks.
Understanding how to support and develop these networks needs to be part of emergency
planning.
Having proactive individuals, village agents, snow wardens and others including councillors
who are connected with the authorities (linking social capital) is important for community
resilience to be effective when emergency responders and other authorities are at work.
Working to develop and support those key individuals needs to be a priority with emergency
planners and responders.
Understand that the value of emergency response plans at Parish level is very much around
the process of the preparation of which allows residents to become engaged on how to
respond effectively in adverse situations.
Communication and a sense of neighbourliness in addition to practical actions (snow
clearance, collecting food and medication) is a critically important component of community
resilience, particularly for those that are isolated, either geographically or because of their
vulnerability. Emergency planning and formal response to emergencies should consider how
this can be facilitated.
Peckham
General lessons from this case study for improving community resilience
Develop better networks between community organisations and people in local areas to
enable people to act quickly together in emergency situations:
o Linking up between organisations and community leaders, and between these
organisations and the emergency responders.
Look for ways to develop bonding capital at the neighbourhood level so that residents
support each other rather than retreating in fear into their own homes.
Support the development of bridging capital: there are organisations of people in different
parts of the area (e.g. Tenants and Residents’ Associations, organisations bringing together
national groups, faith organisations, etc) but they did not link up quickly to take action to
deal with the emergency. This bridging is beginning to happen, catalysed by the rioting, as
often happens post-emergency, but could be supported through community development
or community resilience planning.
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Strengthen linking capital between community organisations and the emergency
responders: some community leaders feel that they could have been more effective in
stopping people from destroying their own neighbourhoods and the livelihood of local
businesses if there had been better understanding with the police.
Recognise and support the role of local organisations in building bonding capital. While
some areas have strong bonding capital, which is expressed in regular activities which bring
members of the community together, like trips, celebrations, etc. Where this kind of
bonding capital does not exist, efforts need to be made to find and develop it linking up at
the neighbourhood level so that residents support each other rather than retreating in fear
into their own homes.
Create channels for people to express their emotions about the emergency. Although this
can be uncomfortable, especially for the authorities, it is important to create opportunities
and to support organisations or individuals in the area who create their own channels. It is
important that these channels are open to all and that they are not seen as being managed
or dominated by particular interests.
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6. Recommendations
Support local people to engage with resilience
1. Provide support to the process of community resilience planning recognising that the
process of plan development can, in itself, foster a sense of community and build resilience.
Communicating with risk-exposed communities is an expectation of good practice for LRF
members (Cabinet Office, 2009b). However, local authority staff interviewed for this project
had a perception that their time spent on this activity was undervalued as a quantifiable
good practice indicator. It would be helpful if within local authorities, endorsed by central
government a method could be found through which teams or individual staff (e.g.
emergency planning officers), who actively engage with at-risk communities in order to
develop contingency arrangements and to build resilience, can be provided with time and
resource to do this, and that it is recognised as part of their job descriptions.
2. Emphasise the importance of working with existing social networks for community resilience
planning, e.g. informal networks between neighbours, neighbourhood watch, networks
through schools (i.e. adult, e.g. clubs, PTA etc., as well as pupil networks). Some possible
examples include:
Emergency planners to work with local people to develop existing networks so they can
be drawn upon in a systematic way during an emergency, via a communication tree e.g.
in terms of locating vulnerable people, door knocking and providing local knowledge to
outside organisations
Work with rest centre “owners” e.g. schools to ensure that whoever runs them is aware
of local issues and clearly links with the relevant on site personnel. It may be that the
rest centre owners wish to staff it themselves with volunteers and this should be
complemented with training and support from the emergency planning.
3. Be prepared for community resilience groups and plans to look different in different areas
and recognise that the imposition of solutions, plans or processes is less likely to be
effective. Time will be needed for networks to be understood and having the right questions
to ask will be important. A “community analysis process” is suggested below.
4. Develop a simple community analysis process e.g. flow diagram of key questions to be asked
about communities. This would be aimed at local authority emergency planning officers,
community resilience group members and would sit alongside the Guiding Principles. The
focus will be on the local community as this is the scale at which much emergency response
must, at least initially, take place. However, it will also consider networks that extend
beyond the local level and how these may also be used. Users could work their way through
the guide, choosing from various alternative answers and in this way build a clear idea of the
type of community that exists currently. This could be supported by existing guidance on
how best to use existing networks as well as the types of support th