July 2020

Staff and students team up with university researchers on coastal erosion project

Withernsea High School has teamed up with researchers at the University of Hull for an exciting and creative project called INSECURE.

The project aims to explore the relationship between local people and the dynamic coast by using first-hand stories from Withernsea residents.

Coastal erosion is an issue that generations of local people are very aware of, with many having their own unique story as to how it has affected their lives. With the acceleration of erosion rates predicted due to climate change, the people of the Holderness coast will need to prepare for the changes in the future.

Geography teacher Sarah Harris-Smith is heading up the team within the High School. Ms Harris-Smith commented: “I am keen for students to engage with a coastal project in their community. It will allow members of the local area to share their stories with a younger generation and offer a chance for those memories to be shared as part of exciting exhibition.”

Due to Covid-19, the students will no longer be able to go out and interview members of the public themselves so they are now asking that the community bring the stories to them.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the study by sharing a story of how coastal erosion has affected them or their families can do so by emailing Ms Harris Smith at harriss@wscampus.net

As part of a suite of projects developed by the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull, researcher Katie Parsons and her team - Florence Halstead and Dr Lisa Jones - are working to create understanding and help the transfer of knowledge in a bid to create a more resilient and better-prepared community.

Katie Parsons said: “Young people can sometimes feel isolated within their communities and decisions about their environment are often decided for them instead of with them. This project allows young people to work with researchers to investigate the problems they face, to understand the effects of climate change on the coast and to try and come up with solutions together. There are many measurable benefits for involving young people in community decision making - from increased confidence and self-belief, to a connectedness that will help to make them feel like valued members within their community.”

Katie continued, “The hope is that by connecting the young people to climate change issues that are happening right at the centre of their own community and families, they will develop lasting pro-environmental behaviours which will result in developing a generation of climate champions.”

At the end of the project, the materials will be collated by the students and turned into an educational and thought-provoking exhibition which will help to inform policy makers, researchers and, most importantly, community members.

Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute added: “This project is an exemplar of addressing the very real challenges of climate change – a global problem that needs local solutions, with communities being empowered to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Most importantly, engaging children and young people in this effort is vital as this generation will face the challenge of climate change over the next century.”


ABOVE: Sea defence work taking place at the south end of Withernsea beach in July 2020.
Photo credit: Tim Nuttall.

ABOVE: The crumbling cliffs near Golden Sands caravan park, July 2020.
Photo credit: Tim Nuttall.

ABOVE: Large rocks are unloaded from a barge at high tide before being moved in to position at low tide.
Photo credit: Tim Nuttall.

ABOVE: An aerial photograph of the south end of Withernsea, taken in the 1960s, in comparison with a near-similar view from 2020.
Photo credit: Unknown / Twitter / Facebook.
NOTICE TO COPYRIGHT HOLDERS: If you are the owner of either of these images, please send an email to NuttallTim@wscampus.net so credit can be given.