Would you know what to do if your house floods? Who would you call if you caught a pandemic flu? My placement aimed to give the public a response to questions like these.

I’m currently completing my MA in International Disaster Management, which has looked at ways to prepare for and respond to different natural and manmade disasters. As part of the UK’s plan to make the United Kingdom more resilient to any disaster which may occur, they created the Civil Contingencies Act in 2004, bringing together local authorities and emergency services to put in place plans in order to manage these situations better. By doing this, the government created Civil Contingency and Resilience Units (CCRU) across the UK. In this placement I have been working with the Greater Manchester CCRU, especially with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) who brings together the ten boroughs within Greater Manchester (Salford, Rochdale, Stockport etc).

Within the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004, each CCRU had to provide the public with a document showing the possible risks (a Community Risk Register) in the area, most of which was provided from the government. The document that is currently available in Greater Manchester consists of a chart with numbers and figures, giving lists and lists of people who respond should the risk occur. At the moment it is pretty unreadable and provides little insight to the public about what they can do or who to turn to. Lincolnshire CCRU  published a bright, easy-to-read document giving the public a clearer idea of what the risks’ impact could be, what the local authorities are doing, and what the public themselves can do to reduce the likelihood or the impact. My work placement has involved creating pages for a public facing document for Greater Manchester. In particular I have looked at the risks households and business face in relation to flood risk, and an influenza type pandemic.

This placement has been really valuable in giving me the experience of working in a communications role, and trying to adapt my writing from a more theoretical academic perspective, to an easy to read public document style. I even had the chance to interact with other experts, such as from Public Health England, the Environment Agency, and the Highways Agency. The pages I wrote were sent out to these experts who were able to give me constructive feedback. I even did a presentation in front of them to encourage other agencies to take on future students.