Transition Town Worthing's Story
TTW started as ‘Worthing Green Drinks’ (WGD); a monthly meeting in the early 2000s where a mixture of people from green groups, NGOs, political parties, and local businesses got together to discuss environmental issues. It was an organic, self-organising network and a great to catch up with people and make new contacts. At each meeting, different speakers and events were held with an environmental theme.
By 2009, WGD had grown into TTW following a talk about ‘Transition Towns’ - a movement founded by Rob Hopkins. Inspired by the concept of Transition Towns, a group of six started meeting regularly to discuss how to create a TTW utilising Hopkins’ book “The Transition Handbook”, and set up a committee, a steering group, wrote a constitution and appointed officers.
In the early stages, there were many events with films, speakers and social events, including knitting blankets for the homeless. In a short space of time, over 500 people were involved with TTW, perhaps in part due to the level of accessibility we offered, such as the creation of a daytime group for those unable to make evenings; attended by older people, young parents and their children.
Since, TTW has held many different projects & events, e.g. the ‘Heart and Soul/ Wellbeing Group’ exploring how climate change affects each of us personally. Nowadays, TTW projects are divided into different focus areas: energy, transport, green spaces, special recycling and plastic-free, Sustainable Worthing Map. TTW is home to a popular monthly Repair Café too, partnering with local Sussex mobility charity ‘Freedom Powerchairs’, who provide a place for people to have their mobility equipment checked for free and donate redundant surplus equipment (powerchairs and mobility aids).
TTW events include weekly & monthly meetings, bi-annual ‘Eco Open Houses’ events and annual ‘Seed Swap, Sow and Grow’, ‘Beach Clean & Litter Survey’ and ‘Green Dreams’ events. The Green Dreams event showcases local green groups, performers, artists, makers and producers, and has seen over 3,500 people attend, whatever the weather! Many of us believe that action on the part of government and business is also vital, so we also formed another organisation- Worthing Climate Action Network; creating a platform for the people of Worthing to campaign!
Useful Learnings from Transition Town Worthing
As it states above in the history of TTW, it was an existing green group that morphed into TTW. One of its members did the Transition training and it grew from there. Being part of the Transition Network, loads of info and materials were (and still are) available to support what we wanted to achieve.
In terms of engagement, we engaged local communities mainly by putting on events and workshops and setting up new practical projects that people could get involved with, on an occasional or regular basis. We have worked with our local Council on many projects, mainly because they liked what we were doing and wanted to support it in some way. What we do ticks a lot of boxes for them!
In terms of challenges, funding is a perennial issue but thankfully we have usually done quite well with funding bids, probably because everything we do is inclusive and accessible to all and ticks all the environmental boxes for funders. Challenges have been with funds and volunteers, but then that’s the same for most organisations. We just keep going until we get there!
Also, we should have incorporated much earlier on, maybe gone for charity status within the first 2-3 years. By the time we did try, it was a lot harder, so we had to go for CIC status in the end. There’s good and bad to this but if you can find helpful, committed trustees who support your vision, it’s probably best to try to become a charity, as there are so many more funders who support charities, and you can find and support premises more easily.
Transition Town Worthing's metrics
- We encourage all Repair Café customers to fill in feedback forms, and we have always done that in our Eco Open Houses events too. We generally do around 40
repairs each session (it’s monthly), many of which are successful.
- Our greenspaces projects involve around 30-50 people on a weekly basis.
- Our mapping project has inspired many other organisations and towns to launch similar projects.
2. The amount of waste we save from landfill…
- If you look at the amount of repairs we do over the course of the year (at the Repair Café); that’s a lot of broken items put back into use that would have been chucked away.
- We compost everything we can at all our greenspaces projects.
- We don’t specifically count species but all our Greenspaces’ projects are designed to support and encourage pollinators. We have ponds on 3 of our projects and it’s amazing how many species move in once you create a pond!