Teesside community groups show us how climate action is done!
The National Lottery Community Fund made a pledge to support communities across the UK to be environmentally sustainable by including the environment as one of the key themes of our 2030 strategy.
As part of this strategic ambition, we’re committed to using our unique position as the UK’s largest community funder to share good practice across the sector and beyond and showcase the role communities can and do play in improving our environment.
Recently I attended an exciting multi-sector experiment to visit two incredible National Lottery funded projects in Teesside, working to tackle the climate emergency. Organised through the MovingBeyond initiative, the visits were attended by representatives from a range of national and local organisations, including NatWest, Quorn Foods, BP, Shell and North of Tyne Combined Authority.
MovingBeyond aims to “bring together businesses, investors, government and society to accelerate the UK’s response to climate change and build a more sustainable way of life”.
Gathering this ‘unusual collaboration’ of partners in a residential setting over several days allows for powerful relationships to be nurtured, uncomfortable truths to be explored, and space for imaginative solutions to develop.
With its challenging economic circumstances following the closure of several major chemical plants in recent years, coupled with its exciting vision of a future as a global leader in clean energy and hydrogen production, Teesside provided the perfect backdrop for this event.
I was delighted to introduce business leaders to the inspirational work that community groups do on a daily basis, thanks to National Lottery players. Their work with residents engages people with the realities of climate change and offers practical, tangible actions that people can take to help our vital move towards a net zero future.
Business leaders came back both inspired and moved; for most it was eye-opening, for some emotional. It just shows the power of bringing together people working in very different sectors to understand the daily realities of working in this space, and to seek inspiration from where it may be least expected. For, in the words of the MovingBeyond team: “This work is hard”.
I’m pleased to share a snapshot from two of my funding colleagues of what we saw on these visits, and what’s possible when people and communities take a leading role in tackling climate change. Both these groups are funded through our £100million Climate Action Fund programme. You can find out more about this funding, with a new funding announcement coming soon to support communities to come together to inspire climate action.
Middlesbrough Environment City (by Julie Coxon, Funding Officer)
It's difficult to put into words just how important Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC) is to environmental action in the North East. Coming away from the visit, I couldn’t help but reflect that this is a flagship project for environmental work in the region. During the visit we heard about the incredible partnership working taking place with local community groups such as ACTES, LINX Youth Project and The Other Perspective, to empower residents to take environmental action whilst also improving their own wellbeing.
It was fantastic to hear how MEC’s Climate Action Middlesbrough project - made possible thanks to more than £1.5million of National Lottery funding - is working to reduce the town's carbon footprint and encouraging residents to lead more sustainable lifestyles. Working across the areas of sustainable food, transport, domestic energy use, waste and natural environment, the project is building on the already well-established grassroots movement across the town to reduce Middlesbrough’s carbon footprint. It’s especially exciting to hear how the project is putting young people front-and-centre of its mission, empowering them to raise their voice when it comes to addressing climate change.
Other services delivered by MEC include:
- Pop-up eco shops across the town, saving hundreds of tonnes of perfectly good food from landfill.
- The Green Hub, which provides daily advice to residents on a range of subjects, from affordable warmth at home to local volunteering opportunities.
- Rooted in Nature, a nature-based wellbeing programme for people experiencing mental health issues. Activities include campfire cooking, gardening, meditation, and basket weaving.
- And of course, a special shout-out to Middlesbrough Environment City’s incredible smoothie-bike (pictured below!) which is not only fun, but also results in delicious, healthy smoothies!
A final reflection: This visit was one of the best days I’ve had working at The National Lottery Community Fund! I was so impressed by how engaged everyone was and how easily the conversations flowed. It was a real eye-opener!
Daisy Chain, Stockton-on-Tees (by Beth Barker, UK Portfolio Officer)
Set up in 2003, Daisy Chain has grown from a small, grassroots family-run project to become the largest, most established provider of holistic support services for people affected by autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities within the Tees Valley. In 2022/23 alone, it supported more than 5,000 families and accessed over £500,000 in unclaimed benefits for autistic adults.
However, the charity doesn’t stop there! In 2021, it was awarded more than £150,000 of National Lottery funding to find a viable solution to fast fashion textile waste by repurposing the textile donations it receives through its charity superstore. It is estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Through its pioneering NeuThread project, Daisy Chain is creating fashionwear that reuses existing fibres and textiles, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and saving water, energy, and chemicals.
It was truly fantastic to see first-hand Daisy Chain developing, designing, showcasing and reselling fashionable products, whilst also providing skills development and work placements in the local community.
And as if that wasn’t enough, thanks to its fantastic team of volunteers, Daisy Chain is also contributing to local trade by growing its own vegetables and selling ‘veg boxes’ to the public, as well as supplying local traders.
We’re so grateful to Daisy Chain for showing us that community and environmental action can go hand-in-hand!