Keeping the faith in local communities
The Field Services team in Greater Manchester Merseyside and Cheshire Area has been working in partnership with local charity Faiths4Change since 2010.
Faiths4 Change has expertise and knowledge about the cultures and communities we serve. They help us communicate environmental messages in areas where English is not widely spoken.
We launched the partnership in 2010 but projects really kicked off after some of our contractors got racially abused while working in the area, and the issue was brought up at a diversity action group.
The focus of our work is in towns and cities where there is a high risk of flooding. We spend a lot of time removing rubbish from rivers so the risk of flooding is not increased further.
Faiths4Change help us understand the make-up of the communities in multicultural areas, and introduce us to community leaders and groups. They help us connect with the public at community meetings so we can get messages across about flood risk.
Faiths4Change worked with us on a big flood awareness project in Rochdale, where we were looking to make the community more self sufficient in terms of preparing for floods. The charity helped us produce multi-lingual flood warning signs in English, Urdu, Guajarati and Somali, so we could get our messages seen and understood by lots of different groups.
Colin Liptrot, Operations Field Team Leader, is a proactive member of our partnership with Faiths4Change. He has helped to raise awareness of flood risk and our work through several initiatives across Greater Manchester Merseyside and Cheshire Area.
He said: ‘Increasing awareness that saves just one wheelie bin of rubbish getting into certain rivers can give us an extra half an hour in terms of operational and incident response.’
As well as these larger projects, we’ve used several environmental outcome days to work alongside Faiths4Change. This included tidying up a garden, which a youth group from a local multicultural centre now use to grow vegetables which they donate to homeless centres.
The charity also helped us arrange litter-picking days in flood risk areas across Rochdale, Bury, Bolton and Oldham. By cleaning up the area we can avoid more rubbish ending up in rivers and watercourses.
Overall this partnership not only raises awareness of flood risk in communities, it helps to raise the profile of the Environment Agency within diverse groups in society.