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Tackling Covid-19 and climate change at a community level

A blog post by Tim Mullens

Tim Mullens
Marketing/CASP Officer, Climate Challenge Fund

Posted 26/05/2020

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Over the past two months we have all adapted to new ways of living, working and being. In many areas of our lives we have taken on a new way of doing things. And this has been a challenge that those we work with through the Climate Challenge Fund have risen to.

Tim Mullens, Marketing and Community Support Officer in our Climate Change Team tells us about the changes he has witnessed through our work with communities across Scotland.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has rightly been the focus for many communities during the last few months.

But the climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

I want to tell you of the important role that projects supported through the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) are playing in the current crisis and how they have adapted their activities for an online audience.

I also want to highlight news about some of the support available from Keep Scotland Beautiful and to invite you to share your stories of community-led climate action

  

Combating Covid-19 and climate change

It’s been inspiring to see many CCF projects providing vital support to their communities during the Covid-19 crisis, with their work helping to tackle Covid-19 and carbon emissions.

Bike for Good's practical, two-wheeled approach is supporting their community in the Covid-19 crisis and helping to tackle carbon emissions

Bike for Good in Glasgow are, for example, helping keyworkers to travel by a social distant and sustainable method by providing free loan bikes, panniers, helmets and lights through their VeloCommunities CCF project.

In addition, they are offering virtual route-planning to help keyworkers get to and from work by the safest and most sustainable travel routes.

Bike for Good also have a range of activities to help the community that are being run outwith their CCF project. These include supporting vulnerable members of the community through bike-based delivery of essential items. There is a fantastic video on Facebook showing the team delivering supplies such as food and medicine.

And with the NHS urgently requiring a variety of equipment, local CCF projects such as Waste into Wishes, run by Gilded Lily CIC in Glasgow, are using their upcycling skills to re-purpose unwanted textiles into useful items. Items such as scrub bags for NHS staff and face coverings for the public are the results of these initiatives. Transition Stirling have even used their 3D printer to make plastic protective masks for local health workers.

There are many CCF projects are amongst a growing number of organisations making surplus food available to their communities - particularly valuable for people shielding or self- isolating. Annexe Communities in Glasgow previously ran CCF supported climate-themed lunch gatherings, which provided a fantastic outlet for surplus supermarket food. They reacted to the Covid-19 crisis by delivering lunch direct to those in need. This activity continues post- CCF funding, with the surplus produce sourced by Fareshare Glasgow and West of Scotland and also direct from local supermarkets.

The economic impact of Covid-19 is well documented so initiatives to tackle waste and ensure no-one goes hungry will be of an even higher importance than usual.

The Gate Church Carbon Saving Project continue to operate their Community Fridge in the West End of Dundee, providing surplus supermarket food for the community.

The initiative saved 37,000kg of food from landfill between 2018-20 alone.

Gate Church Community Fridge launched in the summer of 2019. Photo credit: Paul Reid

  

Adapting activities for an online audience

With physical gatherings not possible, CCF projects have adapted by providing a variety of practical support online.

Online activities include a variety of webinars, one-to-one tutorials, recorded video, film showings and discussion sessions.

Subjects covered include food growing, active travel, home energy efficiency, reducing waste and climate change learning and discussion.

And I want to share some of these inspiring online initiatives below. Why not join one of the sessions or use them as ideas for your own community?

It it’s food you’re interested in, the Thurso Grows CCF project have a series of advice videos on how to grow veg available via their Facebook page and Youtube channel. Tron St Marys Parish Church are also providing planting and growing advice via videos on their Facebook page.

What about tackling waste? Remode in Lochwinnoch have one-to-one support available online to help you with your clothing repair projects. Over to Inverclyde, and Rig Arts have weekly online sessions through their Fixing Fashion CCF project. These offer the chance to learn clothing repair and re-design skills and find out more about how to reduce the environmental impact of your fashion choices.

For travel I’ve already mentioned online route planning available for keyworkers from Bike for Good’s VeloCommunities project. But there are many other initiatives such as The Road to Carbon Reduction project run by Peebles CAN, who organised a walking plant swap online. Local people agreed via Facebook to leave plants outside their house on a designated date that people could pickup on their daily walk, with car travel discouraged.

Most of us are spending more time at home, so our home energy use, bills and carbon emissions will be rising. The Cook, Grow, Sow, Branching Out CCF project run by West of Scotland Regional Equality Council are offering advice on demand if you message their Facebook account. They also have recorded video content online with some simple tips to save energy.

Want to learn more about climate change? Arran Eco-Savvy have been running weekly environmentally themed film showings, with an online discussion afterwards. And further chances to chat about climate change are available through CCF activities of Edinburgh-based group, the Shrub Co-op who are running an online Climate Cafe fortnightly on a Friday.

I hope that some of these initiatives have piqued your interest.

Find your local CCF project

If you want to find out more about local CCF projects in your area you can do so through our interactive map.

Each project listing contains a summary of project activities, plus links to further information and contacts accessible via websites and social media.

You can sort the projects by local authority, so you can clearly see what's happening in your local area, or by theme in case you're more interested in a particular topic such as energy, travel, food or waste.

 

  

And what of our work at Keep Scotland Beautiful to support CCF projects? How have we adapted our activities?

Many of our resources were already online, but we’ve been working hard to ensure that all our training is available through webinars. We recently ran the first of our online networking opportunities and have a new forum for CCF projects launching soon.

More widely, we’re delighted to be offering webinar sessions from partners such as Zero Waste Scotland on topics such as sustainable clothing and plastics. These sessions are open to anyone with an interest in tackling climate change at a community level.

The CCF website contains a variety of online resources and listings for free webinars and training sessions

  

Please share your stories

Despite putting 1,000 words on screen (and counting) I still feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of what CCF projects and the wider climate change community in Scotland is achieving in these challenging times.

Please do share your stories in our Scottish Climate Change Community Facebook Group or by our other KSB and CCF social media feeds.

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