Community-led climate and nature action expands across the city

Image Credit: 
Bristol Gren Capital
27 April, 2023

Six new Bristol community organisations will be supported to co-develop their own responses to the climate crisis, after being accepted into the Community Climate Action Project learning and mentoring programme.

Bricks Bristol, Hillfield’s Community Garden, Knowle West Media Centre, Southmead Development Trust, The Vassall Centre, and Windmill Hill City Farm will be provided with a £3,000 bursary, a series of free workshops, peer mentoring and resources to co-develop their own community climate action plans. Their involvement will see the project expand into more wards across the city and increase the diversity of people taking part in climate and nature action in Bristol following in the footsteps of the six community organisations that pioneered the first phase of the project, coordinated by Bristol Green Capital Partnership.

The Community Climate Action Project puts community leadership at the heart of citywide and local action on climate and inequality. Through the project’s learning and mentoring programme, this new cohort of organisations will learn from the community climate leaders who have pioneered Bristol’s first community-led climate action plans. The project is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Climate Action Fund, and coordinated by Bristol Green Capital Partnership with support from the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Bristol City Council. A range of climate and nature experts from across the city will provide additional support to the new cohort.

Cllr Ellie King, Cabinet member for Public Health and Communities, said, “The Community Climate Action Project is an inspiring community led response to the climate and nature emergencies, putting local organisations and the neighbourhoods they serve at the heart of the city’s approach.

I am delighted to see six more fantastic community organisations joining the programme. It will be exciting to see their plans develop as they are mentored and supported to identify what meaningful action on climate and nature looks like to their communities, and to co-produce a climate action plan specific to their area. A wonderful initiative from Bristol Green Capital Partnership to grow the power of our communities.”

All the organisations joining the project are embedded within a specific Bristol community and are committed to taking community-led climate and nature action. The focus of their projects will be defined by the priorities they identify in collaboration with the communities they work with, and it is hoped that the project will allow more people to engage in local action for climate and nature.

Bricks Bristol work in St Annes and Brislington including through their community hub at St Anne’s House. “We want to explore how more people who live locally can get involved and how to use creative approaches to bring in underrepresented voices. We hope this process can support community wellbeing and resilience and help work towards a climate action plan which represents the needs and interests of the local area.” said George Bate, Engagement Producer at Bricks.

Hillfield’s Community Garden offer activities for the local community to connect with nature and each other and wish to expand this offer to more people. Co-Founder Sarah Rogers said “Local residents and community members from all walks of life will be at the heart of our work to protect the climate and improve our local environment. Developing community-led climate action is important to us as a way to ensure that our community is listened to and able to take practical and meaningful action.”

Knowle West Media Centre work to ensure that arts and tech are inclusive and relevant to working class communities. Creative Producer Annali Grimes says "In seeking a just transition there are so many potential starting points from nature appreciation, to struggles with energy bills, to poor (and decreasing) public transport options. Collaborating with the Knowle West Alliance, there is huge potential in our network to draw together the existing conversations happening in our community, to weave the threads, enhance connections, harness local energy, and come together to codesign a pragmatic yet ambitious approach.”

Southmead Development Trust run two community hubs in North Bristol. CEO Amy Kinnear says “We know that the effects of the climate crisis don’t recognise ward boundaries but that not everyone is heard equally. Community-led climate action gives space to amplify voices in Southmead so our area can contribute to policy in the city. The project will enable us to build on the existing work of passionate community groups in Southmead, start new conversations with residents and build a joint and ambitious local plan.”

Bristol Charities are hoping to establish The Vassall Centre as a community hub for residents of Oldbury Court and the surrounding areas. “Oldbury Court is in the top 5% deprivation with high numbers of social housing, but there are no facilities for people in the community, and few social groups to join. With our local community and neighbouring organisations, we hope the programme will kick start the conversation of green action in the area and help us to develop manageable, attainable actions that the community can feel proud to work towards together.” said Zoe Williams, Centre & Development Manager.

Windmill Hill City Farm in South Bristol are also excited to be joining the programme. Steve Sayers, their CEO said “The area around East Street in Bedminster is at the heart of rapid transformation and development. The opportunities and challenges this brings need to be shaped by people living and working here to ensure that climate action is central to the changes, positive for the local community and fair for all involved. This project aims to bring people together to create a common voice and a clear aspiration through a hyper-local climate action plan.”

This new cohort of community organisations will start the learning and mentoring programme on 26 April with their first workshop covering climate literacy, community carbon footprinting, and climate communications. You can follow their journeys via Bristol Green Capital Partnership. In 2023 the programme is expanding to include new geographic communities, with further expansion to more communities of interest planned for 2024. There will be another opportunity for Bristol community organisations to join the Community Climate Action Project as part of cohort 3 next year.