In Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield, we are already experiencing the effects of the climate emergency, from harmful air pollution to the degradation of nature. It is crucial that we take action now to protect our planet for future generations. But the enormity of the problem can often be overwhelming, leading people to feel helpless or unsure about how they can make a positive difference. Therefore, it’s essential that we empower individuals to take climate action at home, in their workplaces and in their communities.
The Can Do South Yorkshire project is all about ways to emerge positively from lockdown, when people are looking for things that they can do - rather than what they can’t do - to connect again with people, nature and climate. We also want to create systemic change - when citizens care about the climate, it creates a mandate for our councils and governments to act. Politicians are elected to represent us, so the more we pressure them on climate issues, the more likely they are to take action and vote for legislation to protect the climate.
This is a big opportunity for South Yorkshire as we are one of only a few Lottery-funded Climate Action projects, run by Sheffield Climate Alliance and our 35 partner organisations, which range from campaign groups to business networks and community arts organisations. As SCA, we work with even more groups to achieve our vision for a more sustainable region.
We are running a series of public engagement events and activities to chat to people about climate action, and to find out what they would like to know more about.
To keep up to date with the Can Do South Yorkshire project, follow us on Twitter @CanDoSouthYorks, Instagram @candosouthyorkshire, or Facebook at facebook.com/candosouthyorkshire, and use the hashtag #candosouthyorkshire to share your own climate action!
Our project is ongoing so we are always learning and finding new ways of doing things. In the early stages of the project, we looked at Bristol’s Climate Hub (online) to see what was working well there, as well as Camden’s Think & Do project. We are a partnership of 35 organisations, some climate-focused and some not. This means we have a wide knowledge base to draw from.
Having started the project in the middle of the pandemic, we faced challenges of staff shortages, a lack of clarity about whether our events programme would be able to go ahead and difficulty in finding venues for activities and community engagement.
When we started the project, we had hoped we would be able to find a space in Sheffield city centre to rent for a couple of months at a lower price. However, as lockdown eased, it became clear that businesses would be prioritised for city centre buildings, and we were left without one of the key components of our plan, a physical climate hub. However, our Public Engagement Officer, Alex, was able to secure different pop-up venues around the city to host some events and activities. This ended up being effective, as it meant we could engage with different communities that we might not have met otherwise.