Apaar Mangat, one of Hope for the Future’s Engagement Officers, reports back on her experience at Southwark Climate Day.
It was such a great experience to have attended Southwark Climate Day, which was held on the 11th of March at London South Bank University and organised by Southwark Council. The theme of the day was the role local solutions play in helping the climate frontline. It was also a real privilege for Hope for the Future to be invited to speak on the panel discussion they were holding at the end of the day.
Starting off the day, we got to hear from Mr. Jitoko Tikolevu, the High Commissioner from Fiji to the UK who expertly brought in the perspective of a small island state. It is important to recognise how actions in this country, and in the Global North, affect countries in the Global South and that the effects of climate change are by no means equally felt. The topic of the speech fits very well with one of our policy themes for this year: global environmental crisis. Part of this theme involves addressing the impact of climate change in the Global South on diaspora communities in this country. For example, we are continuing our work with the Climate Connections Women’s Group, a group of Bangladeshi women in Oldham campaigning on local air quality around schools as well as making links with the impact of climate change in Bangladesh
After this, there were a number of workshops being held, and we had the joy of attending a few including one by Centric on local community research projects and another on the topic of wild spaces for butterflies by Big City Butterflies. Throughout the day, there were also lots of different stalls including food waste salad making, a pop up repair station by Repair Cafe Nunhead, a green energy advice pop up, and bike repairs. There was also a stall run by a local food alliance group, which had the tastiest brownies ever! It was amazing to see so many invested in their local community and engaged in the day. There was such a range of people attending with people from different ethnicities, ages and livelihoods there.
The last part of the day was the panel discussion looking at the role local actions play in addressing the global climate emergency. I was lucky enough to be joined by Helen Hayes MP, a volunteer from Extinction Rebellion, and the Cities Manager for the climate change charity Ashden. Together, we had a great discussion on the topic, bringing together our different perspectives and experiences with the same goal of tackling the climate crisis globally.
There were also some great questions from the audience, on the lack of diversity in the movement, how to combat feelings of apathy/powerlessness and the benefits of groups in an area linking up. This was a good opportunity to talk about the work we are doing at Hope for the Future, referencing our Faith Project and the 2023 Outreach Review seeking to increase the diversity of the people and groups we work with. The steps that appear to be small matter in engaging with local politicians on the climate issues that matter to you, even if that involves simply writing a personalised letter. We also do our best to let constituents know of other similar groups taking action in their local area as many voices are stronger.
The day was an incredible success and it was great to speak to Southwark residents, community groups, local environmental activists, Southwark council staff and councillors. One of the aims for the event was for attendees to feel inspired to ‘influence the businesses, communities and political bodies around them,’ to reduce their carbon footprint. This is very relevant to our work at Hope for the Future, encouraging people to hold their local politicians accountable, and giving them the resources to help them do so! Thank you to Southwark Council for inviting us and recognising the work that Hope for the Future does.