This week VONNE has had a couple of interesting conversations with national bodies that are keen to engage the North East VCSE sector in their work campaigning for more action on climate change. VONNE is currently working with a small group of partners on developing the VONNE Climate Action Alliance, and our conversations with local organisations have shown us there is an appetite to support climate action campaigns and activities, so our Chief Executive Carol Botten wanted to share some current and future opportunities with you.
We appreciate that VCSE organisations are dealing with many competing priorities at the moment, but we're also hopeful that the appetite for supporting climate action that was so evident before the Covid-19 pandemic has not gone away. Here are a few easy ways to show your support and get behind some initiatives.
The first is the Climate Coalition, a national coalition of more than 140 not for profit organisations dedicated to action against climate change. We've previously highlighted its Time Is Now campaign, the biggest ever mass lobby for climate, nature and people; it would be great if you and your organisation could support the campaign by signing its declaration. The coalition is also recruiting Community Champions for the campaign, and community resources will soon be available on The Time Is Now website.
In February, the coalition organises Show The Love, an annual celebration of everything we want to protect from the worst impacts of climate change. This year, people and organisations are asked to do three things:
- Make, wear and share green hearts
- Create a green heart window display, and
- Connect with another local community group.
More information can be found in the Show The Love Community Action Pack.
Friday, February 12th will be Show the Love Good News Day – an online day of action to showcase all the positive work and activities going on across the UK. Join in on social media by using the hashtag #ShowTheLove and celebrate what you're doing to tackle climate change.
Finally, the coalition is working on a week-long climate ‘festival of festivals’ in September to set the stage for the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow next November.
Do you want to organise a climate festival in your town?
Could you host a local climate festival as part of this? This means acting as a community hub by reaching out to local groups, businesses, councils, places of worship, theatres, sports clubs and other community venues and organisations to organise events related to climate change and sustainability during festival week, then getting your wider community involved.
It’ll be a great way to build relationships and raise the profile of climate action in your community, while taking part in a big, broad and inspiring display of public support for climate action across the UK.
There will be support, guidance and a small amount of funding available for organisers and it would be great to know if you’re interested. More details are available on this information sheet, and for inspiration, see photos of the brilliant Winchester Green Week.
The second organisation we’ve engaged with this week is Hope for the Future (HFTF), which works to equip communities, groups and individuals across the country to communicate the urgency of climate change with their local politicians. It is keen to collaborate with and support North East organisations through its work.
After hearing many campaigners and constituents say they simply don't know what they can ask their MP to do, or how to speak with MPs of differing political values, HFTF developed an approach which supports people to build working relationships with their elected representatives to transform hearts and minds, leading to tangible action on climate change, taken both in parliament and at the local level. The approach draws upon a range of disciplines including conflict resolution, counselling, influencing theory and climate communications.
Hope for the Future’s training and support is freely available to community groups and individuals. Here are some ways in which it may be able to support your work:
- Training workshops in effective MP and councillor engagement
- HFTF's events officer can support you to hold a local community event on an issue which brings politicians together with experts in the field
- Youth workshops, often delivered in schools, allow young people to learn about the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and the role of their MP in responding to these. Central to these workshops is an invitation to the relevant local MP, who gives a talk about their role and discusses how parliament can contribute to climate action, and
- A faith programme supports faith communities to engage their elected representatives on climate change.
If any of your staff, volunteers or wider network would like any support in working with MPs in a one to one or small group capacity, there are a number of ways HFTF can help:
- Research into MPs, in a format it calls a tailored lobbying strategy - the HFTF research team would write this to include background information on the interests, voting history of the MP and their political activities, and build on this to give suggestions for topics and ‘asks’ that would be most effective to engage them
- Assistance in writing to your MP
- HFTF can then attend with you or facilitate the meeting(s) with your MP if that is helpful for you.
If you’d like to find out more, visit the Hope for the Future website to get in touch.