Children, Young People and Flooding – recovery and resilience (2014-2016)

BackgroundChildren and flooding

Our work in Kingston-upon-Hull with people affected by the huge 2007 UK floods revealed that nobody was paying much attention to children and young people. It showed that the children experienced different kinds of problems, particularly with recovery. So after the 2013/14 winter floods in England we wanted to work closely with a wide age range of children and young people to find out their ideas for how they could be better supported before, during and after floods.

Disaster research tells us that it is really important to listen directly to those affected, not so-called ‘experts’. The children and young people we have worked with are the experts and their experience is really valuable for policymakers and practitioners in addressing flooding, which is the most severe environmental risk facing the UK.

Who was involved?

The Lancaster University Flood Project research team worked with children and young people aged 6-15 from South Ferriby Primary School in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire and The Magna Carta School in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey. We have also worked alongside Save the Children UK who has been a valuable partner in this project. The project has been funded through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Urgency Fund.

Where did it take place?

The research and initial stakeholder engagement events with the children and young people took place in their own communities of Barton and Staines. However, the children and young people have been involved in events across the country to spread their message, including the British Damage Management Association 2015 Conference in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Flood & Coast 2016 Conference in Telford and the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Insurance & Financial Services meeting on flooding in Westminster.

What was the scale of the project?

This project has nationwide relevance for policy and practice.


Child's model of a wave created in project workshops

It’s where I first saw the water coming over the hedge.

The research team drew on an innovative creative arts methodology, including walking, talking and taking photographs of the flood affected landscape, 3D model-making and drama. These methods helped to create a safe space for the children and young people to reflect on and talk about their experiences. Following these workshops, the children and young people drew up ‘Flood Manifestos’ which outlined their ideas for action in the areas of flood management, public health and education. They then created performance events for invited stakeholders which took the audience through an interactive ‘flood journey’, inviting them to see the experience of a flood through a child’s eyes and ending with a direct call to action via the Manifestos and audience pledge cards. A project film has also been created and disseminated widely across the environment, insurance and emergency sectors, as well as within local government.


Recommendations from the research include:

  1. Emergency policy and disaster planning must take account of children and young people as affected citizens
  2. The Children’s and Young People’s Flood Manifestos (available below) show important gaps in current policy response to flooding
  3. Policy development will be more legitimate and robust if it draws on the experiences and strengths of children and young people
  4. Flood education (for children and adults) can have a wider impact on family and community resilience, as already demonstrated in fire prevention education

The research has highlighted a key problem: that UK flood policy (prevention, preparation, response, recovery) is currently too fragmented to be able to respond to the children’s concerns, as it often falls between different Government department responsibilities. Download the project report to read more about the research findings and recommendations: Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience.

Key points raised within The Children and Young People’s Flood Manifestos

  • Recognise that floods cause poverty, so displaced families need help with the extra cost of food, washing clothes and transport
  • Recognise that floods can lead to poor health, such as bad diets if people can’t afford healthy food or don’t have the means to prepare it
  • Set up peer groups in schools for children who have been affected by floods so they can talk and get support
  • Disabled people who are flooded need more specialised help before, during and after a flood
  • There should be more grants to help make homes more resilient, and help with the red tape
  • Support the development of community flood fund initiatives to help people who are flooded, or may be in future
  • All families and communities should have a flood plan
  • Flood warnings need to be clearer, so people understand them and know what to do and when
  • Awareness should be raised using different media; information should be put up in the community, like it is for fire safety
  • There should be flood education in all schools, from Reception onwards, including lessons on emergencies and flooding: how to prepare, understanding priorities when it floods, where to go, survival and first aid. This education should include ‘flood tests’: flood simulation events like fire drills and online flood preparation games
  • Teachers need training about floods and how they affect children and their education


The children who worked on this project collaborated to produce a six minute film about their experiences and what needs to be done to improve recovery for people who are flooded in the future.

Flood Manifestos and Pledges
South Ferriby Primary School, North Lincolnshire

PDF Icon Children’s Flood Manifesto

PDF Icon Children’s Stakeholder Pledges

The Magna Carta School, Staines upon Thames

PDF Icon Young People’s Flood Manifesto

PDF Icon Young People’s Stakeholder Pledges


Since the production of the manifestos and film, the Lancaster University Flood Project research team along with the children have been promoting this work at conferences, workshops and through news pieces on television and radio.

  • BBC Radio Surrey
  • Flood & Coast 2016
  • Look North TV
  • BBC Radio Humberside
  • British Damage Management Association 2015 Conference
  • Humanitarian Assistance Workshop
  • Flooding and Resilience Workshop
  • Royal Geographic Society with IBG 2015 Conference
  • Emotional Geographies 2015 Conference
  • Climate Outreach and Understanding Risk Workshop
  • 2015 International Conference of the International Childhood and Youth Research Network
  • EU Civil Protection Forum
  • Public Policy Exchange Symposium



Twitter: @CUIDARProject