By Biljana Markova
EAST SALFORD, United Kingdom, 13 October 12 2015 - The UK community of East Salford has over 1,400 homes and 500 businesses in Lower Broughton and Lower Kersal – all of which are at risk of flooding from the River Irwell. Salford has a long history of flooding , notably in 1946, 1954 and 1980.
In addition to public agencies investing in flood defences the communities have come together to help protect people from flood risk. Community resilience is being fostered through a mixture of sustainability and disaster risk reduction projects
The BIG Lottery Fund awarded almost £1 million to East Salford to help residents adapt to the effects of climate change and help them to live more sustainably. The Broughton Trust is managing the project and has employed a team of residents as Community Researchers and Community Champions. They are identifying sustainability and emergency planning issues that matter locally and are developing projects that will help improve residents’ health, well-being and finances.
This year the Trust has been working with the Environment Agency and 12 young people aged 11-23 to start a youth garden. They have been using the opportunity to understand how best to deal with non-native species such as Giant Hogweed which is a major problem in the locality.
The garden is built on hard standing and therefore the youths are constructing raised beds for growing vegetables and have installed water butts to reduce water run-off thereby reducing flood risk to their area. Some of the produce will be used by the young gardeners themselves and the remainder will be sold to a local café to raise the funds to continue growing next year, with new crops such as pot-grown dwarf fruit trees.
There is a similar project taking place with some local elderly people from a sheltered community consisting of 45 flats and 12 houses. This group is not only growing their own fruit and vegetables but is looking to increase membership and start craft groups, a cooking club and yoga sessions.
Recognising that in emergencies it is important that vulnerable people can be cared for and kept safe, the Broughton Trust also has a specific project with one of the local care homes. This project has designed a dementia friendly garden with residents deciding what plants will be grown and helping to actively maintain the Garden.
A garden party took place in August for residents and their families and the food grown on site is used in the kitchen for the residents and staff to enjoy. Such projects foster a supportive, integrated community that is more resilient should an emergency occur.
Another example is work with schools to run sessions about flood risk and the importance of flood basins. This work enables children to understand the food web of wetland habitats, encouraging them to create a diary of changing seasons and what can be seen in the habitat at different times of the year. The project is based around the Castle Irwell Flood Basin and is targeting adults and children interested in the environment.
In addition to the community exploring the links to eco systems and their role in flood defence in an urban environment, the Trust has also embarked on a project to support the most vulnerable and isolated in the community who are most likely to be affected by climate change, (heat, cold, and flood).
102 vulnerable people have been identified and 10 local residents have volunteered to be community environmental champions. These champions will support individual vulnerable local people in a flood and will be trained in flood awareness, practical action, mutual support and community strengthening. At least 20 key community groups and organisation have come together to create a Valley Flood Emergency Plan.
The Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project: Environmental Sustainability and Disaster Risk Reduction in East Salford, UK has been named as a champion for disaster risk reduction for this year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction.