By Kevin Bradford
This article was originally written for the October edition of Heatons Post, https://www.heatonspost.co.uk/
Environmentalists from The Heatons are hoping an inspiring online event will leave a “legacy” for future generations. Organisers of Heatons Climate Action Festival called on communities to support behavioural change to help tackle the growing challenges around sustainability now, and into the future.
Sustainable Living in the Heatons (SLH), member Mel Godfrey, said he hopes the debates and the topics covered during the event can have a long-term impact. “We started with a purpose to attract attention from people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in sustainability and climate change as a set of political or ecological issues,” he added. “I think we’ve quite quickly got to be quite sophisticated in our ability to get a message across, but from a community angle. “The legacy from this is that people I think will be using this material for some time to come. “What we’ve realised is we’ll be pushing this out to community groups and to other organisations.”
The youth element was an underlying theme throughout the festival, with an agenda to help young people better understand the issues in a very practical way. “At the end of the day it’s about the next generation,” Mel said. “If we mess this up for the next generation then they’re going to be in a right state.”
With Coronavirus restrictions in place, the event was moved to online, and hosted via a series of engaging webinar presentations. More than 20 volunteers worked tirelessly on the content, social media and videos during the festival, with support from The Heatons based event management company Fountain May. Speakers across the two weekends included Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Stockport MP Navendu Mishra, and 20’s Plenty for Us founder Rod King.
And organisers believe the profile of the guests helped increase the reach of the messages. SLH member Diana Scotcher said: “We really wanted to have political support at all levels, because that’s important. “We want to not just get people to do small things, like recycling plastic or cycling more – we want to say ‘come on, pull out your finger, get on with it politicians – you need to do more than you’re doing now’. “There’s a lot happening locally, thinking about climate change, and what we might do in The Heatons and more widely in Stockport as well. “I think we can lead by example. I think there is a role for that and talking about what we’re doing.”
Some of the recommendations from the programme have been put forward to Mayor Burnham, in the hope they can be fed into the COP21 process in Glasgow next year. Mel said: “Over the process of the festival we’ve included some influential people around Greater Manchester, and they have promised effectively not just to put it into the Greater Manchester arena, but to say this will become part of a package of things we will put onto government to go into the COP21 process. “Andy Burnham said very clearly he wants this to be something that is lead as far as possible by young people and their desires for change. “It’s getting everybody aware that change is possible, it is happening, but it’s just not happening fast enough.”
Event production for the Heatons Climate Action Festival was managed by Fountain May who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org