The Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic in North Cumbria
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Feedback conference: Voices of experience

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In 2003 we held a large conference to provide feedback to participants, practitioners and policymakers on the progress of the research project: The Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease Epidemic. Interim findings were presented.

The conference was chaired by Caz Graham, a freelance radio broadcaster. Caz a Cumbrian, began her career at BBC Radio Cumbria and during the FMD epidemic, she hosted a late night phone-in ‘Nightline’ which became a daily forum where the events and emotions of the day could be discussed. She won a Sony Award for this programme. Caz also compiled, edited and published “Foot and Mouth – Heart and Soul” a collection of accounts of the foot and mouth outbreak.

The research team had been reading the work of Professor Kai Erikson (Yale University USA.) on the human impact of disasters and were delighted when he accepted our invitation to speak at the conference.

To read and listen to extracts from Professor Erikson’s contributions to the conference please use this link.

Eight of the study respondents gave personal testimonies. They were all volunteers who had decided individually what they wanted to say and who had elected to have their ‘own’ Chair for their part of the programme. We felt that their courage and eloquence spoke volumes, it had been a privilege to work with them and with their fellow panel members. 17 respondents were able to attend on the day, together with three partners, but unfortunately work commitments precluded many of them.

To read and listen to extracts from respondent contributions to the conference please use the following links:
Personal Experiences – respondents recall living through the 2001 FMD epidemic
Community Issues – respondents speak of the community effects of the 2001 FMD epidemic
Post Disaster – respondents share their hopes and concerns following the 2001 FMD epidemic

The conference was attended by more than 130 people. Among bodies represented were: Health , Local Government (County, City, Parish) , Regional strategic planners (health, rural affairs and emergency) North West Development Agency, GO North West & local press and television and BBC Radio 4 (the following morning ‘Farming Today’ devoted the whole programme to the conference and the questions raised by it), DEFRA, Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency, Rural Regeneration Cumbria, Cumbria Community Foundation, Hadfield Trust, Voluntary Action Cumbria, Citizens Advice Bureau, MIND, Police, Army, Newcastle University, St Martins College, Cumbria Institute of the of Arts.

Among those invited but who did not attend were: Cumbria Waste Management, Lakeland Waste Management, Capita, Environment Agency, Countryside Agency, Rural Payments Agency, Local Strategic Partnerships, MEPs and MPs (it was a busy week at the start of the parliamentary session).

The conference led to useful contacts with strategic planners in health and local authorities. For instance, members of the standing panel and the research team gave evidence for Carlisle City Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s report on Foot and Mouth. We had deliberately planned the conference to be simple in outline in order to concentrate on the data collected and to allow time for questions, discussion and comment.

An arts exhibition ancillary to the conference included a wide range of work: some interpreting the FMD crisis, others show crafts traditional to the area.

Cumbrian artists included: Eden Artisans, Woolclip, Nick May (Stringtheory photography and video), Border Reivers Activities, Rural Women’s Art Network Group, Eden Arts/ Cumbria LEA Healthy Schools’ FMD Arts project and Naomi Baxter whose ‘A’ level project was an FMD re-interpretation of a popular board game. Sue Flowers of Green Close Studios, Lancashire also exhibited.

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