|The 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic had a profound effect on the economic, social and political life of rural Britain. Unlike the other official FMD inquiries which focused on economic and agricultural policy issues, this research was designed to produce evidence about the human health and social consequences of the epidemic. The research was based in the Cumbria area, where economic, social and political life was greatly affected by the FMD outbreak. A standing 'citizen' panel of 54 respondents was professionally recruited to inform the study which was designed around weekly free-text diaries which document the effects of the disaster and the process of recovery.
The research design was influenced by the 'Mass Observation' approach and placed respondents at the centre of knowledge generation, as 'experts' in contributing to the understanding of 'a traumatic and devastating experience for all those who were affected by it. It was a national crisis and was probably one of the greatest social upheavals since the war' (Anderson Inquiry Report, 2002). The panel was recruited to reflect a broad range of occupations including farmers and their families, workers in related agricultural occupations, those in small businesses including tourism, hotel trades and rural business, health professionals, veterinary practitioners, voluntary organisations and residents living near disposal sites. The panel members produced 3,200 weekly diaries of enormous intensity and diversity over an 18 month period. The data were supplemented by in-depth interviews with each respondent, and focus group discussions, and in addition, 16 other interviews with stakeholders were conducted. All material was transcribed and digitised.
The research findings are relevant for the understanding of the kind of support people need both in disaster situations and during the recovery process. The research will also aid the development of rural policy more generally. As much of the material views the disaster over time and through the domestic 'lens', the material offers both immediacy of contact with this event and insight into rural life at the beginning of the 21st century.
Further information may be found on the Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic project web pages (hosted at Lancaster University).
The data collection includes 42 individual semi-structured interview transcripts, 40 semi-structured diaries, 6 focus group transcripts, and 1 audiomontage transcript. Topics covered in the interviews and focus group discussions include perceptions and effects of the FMD crisis and its effects on life and livelihood in Cumbria.
Audio files are also available for the individual interviews and focus groups, but users should note that access to these, and to seven newsletters also included in the collection (produced by the research team and distributed to respondents during the project), is subject to the depositor's permission.