Climate change project: our BME communities strand begins

Kate Damiral was Climate Change Project Officer at NCVO from April 2011 until April 2013. Kate no longer works for NCVO but her posts have been archived on this site for reference.

The latest cohort of organisations to join our climate change project got off to a flying start last week. Twenty BME organisations working across Greater Manchester met up last Tuesday at Bridge 5 Mill for the first of three workshops to explore how climate change could affect the people they support and the work they do.

The cohort

With over 30 people in the room, there was an amazing variety of organisations represented – from lunch clubs to youth groups, arts organisations to welfare and campaigning bodies – all really enthusiastic about investigating the implications of climate change for the communities they work with.


In fact, we’ve been bowled over by the interest we’ve had from organisations keen to get involved. And that’s thanks largely to the encouragement to join the project given by our project steering group reps based in the area; Atiha Choudry from the Manchester BME Network, Dan Silver from One North West and Saleem Oppal, regional officer for the Black Environment Network.

Hear Atiha explain in this video why her organisation got involved with the project:


The workshop

As with our two other London-based cohorts, we used this first workshop to set the scene, outlining what climate change is, its causes and global effects, and the need to both

  • reduce carbon emissions to avoid runaway climate change
  • adapt to the inevitable changes already on the cards.

Take a look at the big picture on climate change presentation delivered by one of our project advisors, Kate Lonsdale.

Later in the day we looked at how climate change could affect life here in the UK and particularly in Greater Manchester. Some key headlines included:

  • average temperatures are set to rise year round and urban areas could be particularly susceptible to intense summer heat
  • rivers in the southern and western areas of Greater Manchester already have a high flood risk and this is likely to increase
  • flash floods from heavy rainfall will be a growing threat for built up areas.

The group then started to explore the implications of these trends for their service users and their work. Issues that we identified included:

  • potential new health risks from heatwaves and flooding
  • more likelihood of disruption to services from extreme weather.

These types of implications have also been flagged by the other cohorts of organisations we’ve been working with.

International connections

But there was also a range of factors identified in this workshop that are likely to be particularly pertinent to BME communities, all linked to knock on effects of climate impacts in other parts of the world. For example:

  • concern for friends and family in other areas facing more acute climate impacts eg: danger, financial problems, breakdown in communications systems, forced migration
  • loss of identity as places of origin change or even become uninhabitable
  • threat to social cohesion and potential increase in racism if world security decreases.

Here’s a write up of all the ideas from the implications brainstorm (Word 50KB) but somehow we’ve managed to misplace all the drought-related issues, so we’ll re-run that bit of the exercise in workshop 2 if we can. You can read more about the format of the first workshop in one of my earlier posts.

Spreading the word

By the end of the day, most people felt they had begun to build a better sense of what climate change could mean for their organisation, and some were already forming plans for how to share the insights from the session with others. For example, Irfan from Salford Interfaith Network and Salford Refugee Forum has already written a beautifully eloquent blog on the Manchester Climate Monthly website, given a presentation to 50 people and is planning an event for Refugee Week in June! And Ruji from Vision, a youth centre in Oldham, will be joining me at the Black Environment Network conference on 23 May to talk about her experiences of the project so far. Great stuff.

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