If your community suffers from flooding, or is at risk from future flood events, forming a community based flood resilience group can be an effective way to increase resilience to flooding.
Local groups closely reflect the interests of their communities and differ from area to area, depending on the particular issues faced by those communities and it is our role to provide help and ongoing support to such groups in flood risk areas – we have helped many community resilience groups in flood risk areas to set up throughout Scotland working closely with flood risk communities and responsible authorities.
Click here for a map showing many of the community groups we have provided support to, and to see if there is a group operating near you.
Why start a community flood resilience group?
If a flood risk community is facing a particular issue and needs a locally focused way of dealing with that issue then a group can help to:
Engage local people and encourage local involvement.
Co-ordinate community action in the event of a flood.
Increase community resilience.
Offer support to and be supported by those who are also affected by flooding.
Be part of a wider community development or community resilience initiative.
Build relationships and connections with the local authority and other bodies.
The most important thing is that the group is there for you and your community to help minimise the impact of flooding and to ensure that a plan is in place if flooding does occur.
Here are some things to think about if you are interested in forming a community flood resilience group:
1. How will we get started and who will be involved?
The fact you have a number of people interested and affected, means you have what is technically known as “a community of interest”. In other words people see a problem and want it solved. At this stage, they do not all need to have the same motives or solutions in mind; for any group to work it needs to represent a body of opinion or a community and it will take work to come to an agreed way forward.
You may have a small group of neighbours or like-minded people, already willing to be involved and with a view on what they would like to achieve. Alternatively you may want to get wider local interest and find out wider views in your community by arranging a public meeting and ask for volunteers at that meeting.
If necessary, the Scottish Flood Forum can help you think through how to arrange this public meeting -the most important thing is to get people along! This will involve advertising locally with posters or flyers, putting an announcement in the local press and using any community magazines or websites. You will also need to think through who to invite and how you will handle any conflict and difference of opinion.
It is useful if the group is formed during this first public meeting, whether formal or informal, as otherwise it can be difficult to get people to a second meeting.
We can then help you establish a group agenda for your first meeting and agree what you want to achieve. We will then maintain regular contact with your group through meeting attendance, newsletters and personal contact with key group members.
2. What will the aims of the group be?
It is important to establish what the group is there to do. This will depend on the local situation. Things the group could want to cover include:
Discuss and agree measures can the group take to minimise the risk of flooding (for instance, bulk buying flood products to reduce costs).
Whether there are wider issues that need to be discussed with the agencies involved in flooding and how the group builds relationships with these organisations.
Discuss what could the group do to help themselves and their community in the event of a flood and create a resilience plan for the various stages of a flood, for before and during a flood and for the recovery phase if a flood does occur.
The Scottish Flood Forum can help you identify priorities; create agendas and over time form a tailored plan for your community.
3. What will the structure of the group be and will it have a constitution
Once the group is formed it can be useful to adopt a constitution. This shows the outside world that the group has a mandate and elected officers to represent their community.
The main points of any constitution are:
What it is set up to do (objectives).
How it will do those things (powers).
Who will run it (committee/board).
What happens if changes need to be made (amendment provision).
What happens if it wishes to wind up (dissolution provision).
How the group or association will be run.
Internal arrangements for meetings, voting, looking after money, etc.
A couple of template constitutions are available in the next section to give you a helping hand and we can give you additional support if necessary.
4. Dealing with Conflict and Building Cooperation and Mutual Respect
The trauma of flooding will arouse feelings of anger, frustration and loss on all sides and this is a very natural response. Hostility may have built up within the community and towards external agencies and individuals within the community will have their own points of view and opinions. Don’t let this put you off – it make the need for a group even greater as having a platform to discuss both internal and external problems is the best way to move forward.
Community flood resilience groups, once they are ready to engage externally, have the challenging task of representing local views whilst building positive working relationships with authorities such as the local authority or Scottish Water. Cooperation, partnership and mutual respect are at the heart of working together to help reduce flood risk. The priority is to establish a group and plan of action which will serve the community. However it is important to stress that establishing good working relationships with other agencies is the best approach in the long run. Please remember as an independent organisation, the SFF can mediate in difficult situations.
5. Developing networks
It would be helpful to think about what other existing community organisations are in your areas and how you will link with them. Perhaps your community already has an existing community organisation which is concerned with local issues. This could be anything from a neighbourhood watch scheme to a green transition scheme or be a sub-group of the community council. Have a think about whether it makes sense to contact members from other groups, to see whether your interests coincide with theirs. Flood resilience groups are there to serve your community, so it is worthwhile exploring whether they will do this best by being connected to a wider community group (perhaps as a sub-group) or standing as a separate group.
Another area to consider is at what stage you want to make links with your local authority and other bodies such as SEPA and how you build relationships with them.
6. Group relationships and skills:
It’s important to remember that people volunteer their own time to get involved with a group and their investment should be valued and the group should draw on everyone’s skills and knowledge. Make use of these by encouraging everyone in the group to contribute and by thinking about the link between skills, tasks and group positions. The quieter people on a group can contribute a great deal with the right facilitation and leadership. Everyone has something to contribute to a community flood resilience group.
Need help forming your group?
We provide assistance in starting, sustaining and developing community resilience groups in flood risk areas throughout Scotland. Do get in touch if we can help.
Developing a constitution for your community resilience group:
A group can adopt a constitution to set out its aims and how it works and this helps to demonstrate that the group is a democratic, accountable and a legitimate community body.
A constitution is simply the aims and rules that a community group will use. It’s a statement of what the group is going to do and how it is going to do it. A standard basic constitution for a community flood resilience group usually contains the following sections.
Representing Local Views
Annual General Meeting
Conduct Of Members
Changes To Constitution
We have provided a template for both a simple constitution and a more complex one for a group ready to have a formal committee. Please download these and amend them for your group’s use.
Most of us learn to chair meetings by being put in a position of chairing meetings!
However, sometimes a little support in thinking through what your role is; how you will make the most of the skills and talents in the room and how you will manage any conflict while keeping the meeting on track can be helpful.
Here is our guide on chairing meetings and do get in touch if you would like information about when we will be delivering our chairing community group meetings training.
Setting up a bulk buying PLP scheme
One benefit of a setting up a group, can be the ability to investigate purchasing your community’s property level flood protection equipment under one contract. Some communities have had great success in this, others have decided not to go down this route. We can help you decide which is the right route for you and if you would like a little more information, do read our case study of one group that chose this route: