Community action for the planet.
Over the next few months I'd like to share a few spotlights on community groups, individuals and local businesses who are all working hard to protect our planet and stop climate change.
The aim is to share something hopeful and inspiring, but I'd also like to help us all connect our efforts together to make Winchester a more sustainable place to live and work. Part of this is knowing what is going on in your local area and what you can get involved with.
About South Wonston Sustainability:
I spoke to Nickey, who is the Chairperson for South Wonston Sustainability group about how they've been working to improve things for residents.
The group started in 2021, when Nickey and a small group of volunteers started collecting recycling from residents to help reduce household waste in the community. By linking up with other voluntary groups around Winchester, they were able to take materials that don't go in the curbside recycling bins and save them from landfill. Over 200 residents of South Wonston village were using this service to reduce their waste when it began.
In the same year, WinACC came to the Parish Councils' AGM to present information on WeCAN, which is their climate action network that's working towards making Winchester carbon neutral. They had worked with Winchester City Council to commission a carbon impact report for all parishes in Winchester, which was eye opening. Nickey says that this presentation had a big impact on how the group developed:
"It was clear that, although recycling is important and popular, it doesn't have a very big effect on reducing our carbon emissions."
After this Nickey started to work with WeCAN, attend Parish Council meetings and talk to local people about the climate crisis. More people joined the cause and soon there were enough people to form South Wonston Sustainability - a climate action group. Helen, who volunteers as part of the Food Action Group, recently joined as being part of a community helps to amplify the changes her family had made at home:
“I think it can be easy to get discouraged, so I love focusing on all the changes we can make every day that can actually have a huge impact cumulatively, as well as thinking about how we can advocate more widely.”
Since forming the climate action group, South Wonston Sustainability have set up 5 action groups that each focus on different areas - Biodiversity, Circular Economy, Energy, Food and Travel. They feed back ideas and information to the main Coordination team who meet once a month to plan events. Babs, who volunteers for the Energy Action Group, perfectly sums up how South Wonston Sustainability is helping people feel empowered:
“I've been increasingly concerned about climate change since the 'big storm' in 1987 and find that doing something about it, even just on a local level, is the best antidote to feeling helpless or despairing. I do feel we are making a difference and even if it's small, it all helps.”
The group is also still working on recycling, although this is now one part of a much larger effort against climate change. At Earthian Zero Waste Shop we are a drop off point for home printer cartridges that we pass on to South Wonston Sustainability. The cartridges are recycled to raise money for local charity Winchester Youth Counselling.
Q and A with Nickey:
I asked Nickey a few questions about the group and what their plans are for the future.
Q. What inspired you to start South Wonston Sustainability?
A: "We all wanted to learn more about the climate crisis and find other people who felt the same. By starting a group we hoped that we'd be able to get other people thinking and talking about climate change too. The consumption report for the village was definitely an inspiration."
Q. What are your aims for the group?
A: "To take action against climate change. We want to find ways in which we can work as a community, and as individuals, to reduce our impact on the planet. Our aim is to encourage learning, sharing and swapping ideas of how we can all live more sustainably. We've been contacting other groups in the village and have visited the Scouts and the Community Library. Hopefully we can work alongside some of these other groups too. We'll find out whether there is any interest in different projects e.g. a community growing space, a repair cafe, a library of things? There are lots of possibilities if we can get more people involved!"
Q. What events do you have coming up that people can get involved in?
A: "Our next Climate Cafe on Sunday 2nd April in South Wonston Pavilion 11a.m. to 1p.m. It's a free event. It's being organised by our Biodiversity action group and will include a talk by Hampshire Swifts. Our Travel Action Group are also busy planning an exciting event for May 21st, so keep an eye on our website and social media for more information."
Q. What are you most proud of achieving through South Wonston Sustainability?
A: "There have been a few things this year! We've become a working party for South Wonston Parish Council and they declared a Climate Emergency in June 2022. Our Energy action group, enabled by our Parish Council, received a grant from Winchester City Council to buy a thermal imager. This will be available to people living in our parish to find any cold areas in their homes so they can try and remedy any heat loss. Seeing the numbers of people attending our Climate Cafés grow."
A big thank you to Nickey and all the volunteers from South Wonston Sustainability for talking to me and letting me write about the work they are doing.
If you, or someone you know, would like to have a project they're working on featured in our blog please do get in touch!