Cocreating an intergenerational response to the climate emergency
18th July 2022
Kirsty Hammond is Climate Action Lead at Heart of BS13 and a lifetime resident of the area with over 14 years of community engagement experience. In this blog she shares how they are connecting young people with their environment and future opportunities.
Heart of BS13 was established in 1990 to address the challenges and barriers faced by the BS13 community to improving their physical and mental health. Our focus is on the intersection between employment, health and environmental justice.
BS13 is in the most 10% of deprived communities in the UK, our involvement in the Community Climate Action Project has given us a clear understanding about how the climate emergency will disproportionately affect communities like ours.
Starting with the young uns
We have been reflecting on our approach of working with young people to co-produce BS13’s climate action plan and how critical we believe this has been to mobilising an intergenerational response to the climate emergency.
While adults may often either deny we are in a climate emergency, or feel hopeless and disillusioned believing there is nothing they can do to change it, children are less susceptible to political spin or dissonance from climate issues, and are often passionate about protecting nature and the world they are growing up in. They are also likely to be less limited by their beliefs about what is possible than adults may be.
While children aren’t the key decision makers in a household, they have a captive audience in their care givers, and therefore the opportunity to inspire adults towards climate concern, and in turn, collective action.
Children who learn about the climate and ecological emergency can transfer knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to their parents – putting these issues on the agenda for these adults, and in turn inspiring behaviour change. This may be something simple like starting to recycle or eating less meat, or taking part in local events with a climate focus. These issues then become relevant and relatable to the adults, who in turn can influence and inspire other adults in their lives.
Inequality in BS13 is systemic and transgenerational. Children grow up in a vicious cycle of poverty that in turn incubates Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that go on to affect educational outcomes. Fewer than 2% of young people from this area go into higher education with most working a lifetime in low skill, low pay jobs. Limited work opportunities and our inefficient transport system place an immense burden on physical and emotional health, which then feeds into the same cycle for future generations. If the only jobs that children and young people see and have access to are the low pay, low skill jobs of their family members, then aspiration, self-belief, hope, and opportunity are merely words.
Put simply, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
For this reason, we placed children front and centre of the co-production process to inform how the wider community establishes its knowledge of climate and ecological issues and how we develop our practical and economic responses for future generations.
We did this by collaborating with schools and non-formal education establishments across BS13, ranging from primary, secondary, special education needs and further education settings, as well as local youth clubs, to understand what baseline knowledge young people had on the climate and ecological emergency.
We took a creative approach and commissioned seven artists to carry out interactive workshops using a range of multi-media activities from beat boxing to making sea monsters out of rubbish.
We engaged with OVER 1,000 YOUNG PEOPLE during a pandemic!
Our ambition was to use creative thinking to challenge perceptions, amplify local voices and connect young people with their environment and future opportunities.
This is only the beginning of our journey, we were so impressed by the work our young people created in these sessions, and how this has created conversations at home on what action can be taken. You can find out more about our climate action work here.
We know there is much more to do but the world depends upon communities like ours taking that first step.
It’s our young people’s future…
Heart of BS13 are one of six community organisations who have been co-producing community climate action plans over the past year. Watch the recording of our webinar on How to Cocreate a Community Climate Action Plan to find out how to apply their learning in your own community.