South Yorkshire Climate Alliance

Getting started

There is no one way to get started involving yourself in community activity on climate change, it will all depend on your local setting and what you feel comfortable doing. But speaking or acting as part of a local group is more powerful, and empowering, so hopefully some of these ideas will help you find a way in.

Good people exist out there – you might feel you are going out on a limb and no-one else will be interested, but you’d be wrong. Opinion polls show that 70-80% of the population want to see more action on the climate and nature emergencies. Not everyone knows what they can do beyond their own recycling, however – but people are always keen to do things that are practical and local. If you make an offer, good people with good community connections will respond.

Find an existing group – it might sound obvious, but check the list of local groups on this website to see if one already exists. There may already be one nearby you could partner with, or one with the same specific aims you have in mind (eg re-wilding, or community energy). Finding a group nearby, or a kindred spirit, might prove useful.

Talk to people you already know – you might be a member of a group that exists for a different purpose (scouts/guides, Women’s Institute, a Whats App group for your street, a community library committee….) where others in that group might be interested in doing something practical on climate and/or nature issues. Float the idea and see if you get any takers.

Leaflet a very small area – one group started through someone leafletting a handful of local streets, asking if anyone was interested in a handful of topics. They followed up by talking to people on their doorsteps about their main environmental concerns. From these initial steps around 30 people signed up to join a Whats App group.

Try your luck – you could place a postcard in a newsagents window, or write a piece for a local free magazine. You could put up a sign on a piece of wasteland saying ‘Shall we make this into a community garden?’

Bringing people together – at some stage it will be necessary to meet with others interested in being involved. If inviting along someone from an established group might help, our list might help you find one.

Reaching into your community – once you have a small core group prepared to try to get things off the ground, you will need to publicise the group more widely (to whatever geographic scope you choose). Some kind of an event that you can publicise via social media, posters, community newsletters, etc can announce your presence on the local scene and help you build numbers. Building gradually is ok – don’t feel you have to over-reach yourself too soon.

Protecting your privacy – you might feel exposed if you publicise your own personal contact information, but you could avoid this by creating an email account in the group’s name and publicising that instead.

Find a mentor (if you need one) – all this might sound very daunting, and you might be worried about it stalling and failing after its first few steps. Use the contact form to get in touch if this is the case, and we’ll find someone who is happy to help mentor you and your fledgling group.

Advice from others – you might be interested to see advice from others on setting up a new group too:

This guidance from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s Nature Recovery Toolkit takes you beyond the very first steps we’ve described above