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Lancaster University launches Cumbria Flood workshops

03/08/2010 10:12:21

Dr Rebecca Whittle
Dr Rebecca Whittle

Researchers at Lancaster University are working with Cumbria County Council and NHS Cumbria to launch a series of events designed to identify how research can help Cumbria recover from the devastating floods of November 2009.

The floods affected 2000 households and businesses in Cumbria. Many families are still living in temporary accommodation and businesses are still closed, severely affecting local employment.

Lancaster University has been heavily involved in research into flooding and other disasters in the UK. Past projects have examined how communities recovered from incidents including:

· Foot and Mouth Disease in 2001

· The Carlisle floods of 2005

· The Hull floods of 2007

The university is now working with Cumbria County Council and NHS Cumbria to plan a workshop which will be held at Rheged in Penrith on March 24.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) with support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Design Service North West, the workshop will enable the county’s recovery managers and local people to meet social and physical science researchers and learn lessons from the Hull project and other recovery research.

The workshop will also help stakeholders and researchers to identify areas for potential future flooding research.

Importantly, a series of smaller events held in the run-up to the main workshop will give the community the chance to have their say.

These include workshop s for community members where people will be able to share their own experiences of the November 2009 floods and highlight concerns that they would like to be addressed by researchers.

Similar workshops will be held in schools to enable children to contribute to the debate.

Lancaster University’s Dr Rebecca Whittle, who has been working on the Hull study, said: “Our research in Hull shows just how long and difficult the flood recovery process can be, so we really sympathise with the situation that people are facing in Cumbria.

“Floods are very dramatic events but, for those affected, the flood itself is only the start of the much longer process of getting the community back on track. Those affected by this disaster will continue to live with its effects for a long time after the national news crews have gone, so it’s really important that people in Cumbria are given as much help and support as possible during this difficult time.

“As researchers, we have an important role to play in this process. The floods of 2007 prompted a lot of research into flood and flood recovery and the findings from these studies could be harnessed to help the recovery work that is currently being done in Cumbria. Our workshops are all about joining up researchers with local stakeholders, policy makers and the community in order to give that learning a chance to take place.”

“We also want to bring the research community together with residents and stakeholders so that they can think about the kinds of research that would be helpful in the months and years that follow.”

Professor Jennie Popay, the regional director of the NIHR research design service added:

“The NIHR research design service is funded by the National Institute for Health Research to support researchers in the NHS and the universities to develop high quality proposals to attract income into the region to support research that will help improve the health of the region’s population and increase the quality of health and social care services. Research has an important contribution to make to the flood recovery process in Cumbria in the short term and over the long haul but it is really important that people with local experience are involved in deciding what research is needed. The RDS is pleased to be able to support this process”.

For more information about Lancaster University flooding research and the NIHR Research Design Service for the North West go to