At Dorking Climate Emergency, we advocate for climate change action across Mole Valley, Surrey, and beyond. We campaign for local councils to declare climate emergencies, run working groups to examine Surrey County Council’s proposals on carbon reduction, and reach out to the community on sustainability issues. The Mole Valley Climate Hub helped us to engage a wide variety of local residents across a range of green issues, including people who may not have considered their carbon footprint in the past.
We found a shared space at the intersection of two pedestrian precincts in the local Employment and Skills Hub. This was a great spot for footfall, but we quickly realised that some people were confused about the location and purpose of the hub. By moving tables outside and interacting with people directly as they passed, we were able to increase engagement.
The hub was open three days every week, with a different theme for each week and we enjoyed lots of support from different groups that provided their time and resources. These included Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Extinction Rebellion. Local artists provided some wonderful props – a large polar bear and countdown clock were very engaging, particularly for children. We also hosted interactive workshops and gave away useful information booklets and free gifts, including eco-friendly soap nuts for washing clothes.
One of our most popular giveaways was milkshakes made from fruit provided by Community Fridge – a fantastic charity that aims to end food insecurity by collecting unused perishable food from supermarkets and restaurants and making it available to those in need. We took a wide and varied approach to get as many people involved and engaged as possible. Our final week at the hub was in the run-up to COP26 and attracted a lot of local attention.
To support Mole Valley Climate Hub, we also ran fortnightly evening meetings at a local venue on some of our key themes, hosting expert speakers and welcoming members of the community to take part in relaxed and friendly discussions on climate change and carbon reduction. Even with the ongoing pandemic, we generally hosted around 30 people at each of these events.
Responses from the community were varied but largely very positive. It was great to share information with people who were excited to expand their knowledge and actions around carbon reduction. And even those who had different views or were worried about responses to climate change, got space to share their concerns and chat with our expert volunteers.
Get the right location – The right location is vital for this type of pop-up project. People who are already invested in green issues may come and seek you out anywhere but for those who are less engaged or have limited knowledge of what you do, it’s vital to be in a visible spot with high footfall where your message will grab attention. If you’re in an open spot it’s also important to think about when you host the event, one day of poor weather had a significant impact on our visitor numbers.
Share free information and giveaways – Anyone can download and use the detailed booklets on the Dorking Climate emergency website. These are great resources to share and promote at this type of hub or event. We also found that giveaways were very effective in getting people engaged.
We’re proud of the impact of the Mole Valley Climate Hub and the part it has played in increasing visibility around climate change and carbon reduction across the area. We’re also pleased to say that Community Fridge still provides services at the hub site, providing food for those in need.
‘Good’ conversations outside the hub