Environmental charity Groundwork is working alongside the WWF-UK and National Lottery to inspire and educate Salford communities about how they can make small changes and help local environments.

As part of this, dozens of Lower Kersal residents gathered to watch David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet” to learn more about climate change.

Afterwards, attendees would discuss in groups ways in which they can help and what they do already.

The event was part of an ongoing project, titled “Mobilising Community Climate Action” which aims to hold multiple screenings of the Netflix film across Greater Manchester. It also provides up to £500 funding towards community environmental projects through The National Lottery Community Fund.

23-year-old Lucy Rodgers, who lives in Longsight, works as an inclusive climate projects assistant for the charity. Having hosted three previous screenings, Lower Kersal had one of the best turn-outs so far. She said: “The main aim of these sessions, as the name suggests, is simply mobilising local communities and empowering them.”

Community groups can kickstart a new environmental project, or consider ways to invest in a pre-existing one. Lucy said: “Communities like [Lower Kersal] where they’re already doing a lot, the funding is to improve it, sustain it and keep it going”

Lower Kersal Young People and Community Group (LKYPCG) has owned its sizable allotment plot on Littleton Road since 2004. Volunteers and members of the group maintain the allotment on a weekly basis and the fresh produce is used in cooking classes. The group also holds meetings with the council about the local environment, with project directors Thomas and Lesley Lever working to reduce litter and fly tipping regularly.

There is set to be another screening at Moss Lane Farm on March 31st. The farm, located in Eccles, heavily promotes the importance of sourcing local, organic produce and advocates against the use of pesticides. Lucy said: “We’re sort of trying to target the widest range of communities that we can. We want to target communities that already have an awareness of climate issues and are already doing something.”

While Salford boasts multiple parks and nature reserves, not every area can say the same. Lucy said: “We also want to target communities that haven’t had access to green space and that maybe haven’t had the education about the climate, about what they can do for their local area.”

Lucy went on to describe the aims of the project; “It’s about improving access to green spaces; it’s about making the local environment better and more beneficial to people.”

Lower Kersal residents gave thanks to Groundwork and Thomas Lever MBE for the experience, due to its insightfulness and the important conversations it promoted. Lucy said: “The general feedback so far has been really positive; it’s quite an eye-opening film that has helped people who perhaps weren’t as engaged in environmental issues before.”

Groundwork and WWF-UK are working together as implementation partners. Lucy went on to talk about the significance of this; “We’re helping the WWF to connect to smaller, local communities; of course, they are such a big organisation. In turn they are helping us connect these communities to funding and to the education that comes with the film.”

Groundwork utilises its contacts with various community groups throughout the area by reaching out to them and offering to host a screening at their location. They go on to explain the process, its objectives and the opportunity to be awarded essential funding. Lucy said: “The funding is to improve lives as well as the environment.”

Each session is tailored to the community in which it is held according to what locals have access to, allowing them to take control and thus making the project more inclusive and creating personalised experiences.

Lucy grew up in Brighton and attended the University of London. Having only moved to Manchester in late August 2021, she spoke about what stood out about Salford and its environmental assets; “I was so amazed to see just how green Salford is. I had been visiting for a couple years before I moved but spending time around the River Irwell and walking through the nature there- you can get lost in the forest and it doesn’t feel like you’re in a city anymore.

She continued; “Seeing the [Kersal] wetlands too; I’ve watched documentaries about how they turn a flood defence into a biodiverse habitat. I think that’s such an important thing because it’s supporting people and wildlife at the same time in a really balanced way.”

Lucy praised The University of Salford for its “IGNITION” project contribution, which launched in 2019. The project, which unites 12 partners including Groundwork and the university, has provided living walls, green roofs, rain gardens and more. It aims to make Salford more sustainable and greener, increasing urban biodiversity in the process.

Groundwork also launched its “Greening Swinton Square Shopping Centre” project in December as part of IGNITION. Lucy said: “It’s really great to see a city like Salford, and Manchester as a whole, taking such initiative on climate change. You can really see it.”

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