A few weeks ago we blogged about a free training day, called Bright Ideas! Local action for global impact on energy and climate change, being hosted by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition (of which CAFOD is part) and Practical Action. Blogger Catherine went along for the day!
I thought Bright Ideas! sounded like a fab opportunity when we blogged about it – a really interesting way to find out more about how climate change is affecting communities, particularly such as those supported by charities like CAFOD and Practical Action. I am also keen to learn more about campaigning – I hear a lot about CAFOD’s campaigns through this blog and am really interested in what goes on behind the scenes. I’m getting involved as a Campaigns Officer for a soc called Student Hubs at uni next year – so I figured it’d be a great starting point!
So on a sunny Saturday the weekend before last, I hopped on a train to St. Paul’s Community Centre in Wimbledon Park and was warmly welcomed by the lovely team behind the event. I met some other attendees – people from all different locations and of all different ages, and with such different reasons for being there! Some had lots of campaigning experience, others were in the early days of projects and some – like me – were just starting out. I found it so interesting and exciting to hear about the different activities that people were involved in around the country – there’s so much going on and people that are truly motivated to promote change in issues that they feel passionate about, it was really very inspiring!
The first skills session I attended was about effective local action and partnerships, run by Chris Church, from the UK Low Carbon Communities Network. We looked at why local action matters, what challenges there might be and how these might be tackled. This was really useful – especially from a Hubs point of view, as part of my role will be to recruit support from the local student community.
Next I attended a session about lobbying MPs, hosted by Martyn Williams from Friends of the Earth – this was all pretty new to me, as I didn’t think I’d ever done any lobbying before! Martyn talked about the power of a mass response and it got me to thinking about the way in which CAFOD encourages supporters to send a postcard/message of support for campaigns (last year CAFOD supporters delivered over 60,000 Thirst for change actions to Downing Street!) It really shows how much can be done with everyone on board and how important it is to get involved and add a message.
After a very very yummy lunch and a fun activity where we got into groups based on our postcode, to discuss local issues and potential for local projects, we moved onto the briefing sessions. The first I attended was called ‘Sustainable Energy for All’, run by Nick Milton from Practical Action. We learnt about the Oslo Declaration, about the benefits of electricity to communities – things I’d never even considered, like the ability to do medical procedures at night, keeping vaccines cool and street lights for safety – and the importance of using suitable methods of energy production. I learnt a great deal from this session – too much to report in one blog, but check out this resource to find out more.
The last session I attended was called ‘Adapting to Climate Change’ and was run by Amanda Ross, who also works at Practical Action. Our uni RAG team does some fundraising for this charity and so it was really awesome to find out more about how they work. Amanda filled us in with some facts about climate change and told us how Practical Action work in countries such as Bangladesh, providing solutions such as pumpkin technology and floating crops.
I had such a lovely and inspiring day and felt so motivated to get involved with campaigning (walking out to brilliant sunshine topped it off – we have such a pretty planet and it’s so important that we treat it with respect!) – so thank you, SCC Coalition and Practical Action, for this awesome opportunity to learn from some brilliant speakers, and to CAFOD for making me aware of it!
If you’re interested in any of the skills sessions that went on, you can check out some awesome resources on lobbying your MP, getting local media coverage and holding public meetings. There are also more to be found here and on Practical Action’s website – along with a sneaky pic of the great group that attended on the day!
And if you’re feeling ready to get involved with campaigning, be sure to check out the campaigns section of the CAFOD website, as well as on the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition site. Another of the things we talked about on the day was the power of Twitter – from raising awareness to communicating with MPs. So a great way to keep up to date is by following the SCC Coalition, Practical Action and CAFOD – you can follow CAFOD Southwark too!