London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and every borough represents a whole different culture and environment. Among those differences is environmental awareness.
Researches prove that the poorest boroughs are less likely to engage in environmental discussions and action.
These communities, however, are also those that are more vulnerable to environmental issues, including air quality, flood risks and lack of open and green spaces.
The reasons for this are varied and include barriers such as limited environmental education, financial,constraints and lack of support. Different age and social groups prioritise issues differently, so environmental concerns in such boroughs and vulnerable households are very much secondary to survival.
More inclusion and variety in the voices and viewpoints within the environmental movement would lead to further support, engagement and actions arising from citizens whose borough’s experience the issues at hand.
We believe that every person should be able to access knowledge about the environment and the issue it faces, and have a seat at the table no matter their gender, race, income, disability or background.
So we created ‘Community Empowerment’, a social action campaign ‘to empower and encourage individuals through the promotion of environmental awareness and action’.
To do so, we partnered with the Huggett Women’s Centre in Barking and Dagenham, a centre which supports women and girls facing multiple and complex disadvantages based in one of the most deprived London boroughs.
The campaign consisted in the delivery of a set of interactive, informative and solution based workshops. They were designed to inspire environmental action but are also aimed to promote community empowerment and integration.
This innovative concept, along with the commitment of the group, conquered the interest of various stakeholders and allowed Community Empowerment to triumph at the Uprising’s Dragons Den 2018.
We conducted extensive consultation with the Centre, including a survey to understand the needs and wants of women utilising the centre and potential participants. Following the results of the survey we came up with three different workshop ideas to be delivered:
- 1. DIY Skincare Product Making - Learning how to make eco-friendly products such as bath soaps and body scrubs, whilst learning about plastic pollution in the oceans.
- 2. Indoor Gardening - Building a mini terrarium, whilst learning about the health and environmental benefits of gardening.
- 3. Public Speaking and Body Language Skills - Building confidence and boosting knowledge through presenting an environmental presentation at the issues at hand.
Our campaign was very successful, with 100% of participants saying that they will make a positive environmental change within their lifestyle routine, e.g. ‘I will stop using plastic… I will talk to people/neighbours about litter”
Community Empowerment proved these individuals are eager to grow and share their knowledge about environmental issues. They felt empowered by their newly achieved voice, actively contributing to an improved environment and wellbeing for themselves as well as of the communities they are part of.
The project demonstrates the necessity to widen the environmental discussion and extend participation to groups that have been too often neglected.
We are looking forward to continuing this challenging and exciting journey!
You can find us on Twitter (@CommunityEmpow3) and Instagram @CommunityEmpowerment18)