Across Manchester, people of all ages and backgrounds want to do more for the planet, but may lack the skills, experience or support to make it happen.

To overcome these barriers, Groundwork Greater Manchester have been working alongside Manchester Climate Change Agency, Hubbub, Amity, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research and Manchester City Council to support over 50 community-led projects under the banner of In Our Nature.

The Groundwork team have been working in four main areas in Manchester; Wythenshawe, Crumpsall, Gorton and Harpurhey.

Gathering public opinion

The team’s first step before starting their support in these communities was to understand what work was already being done and what challenges they faced.

To gather this information the team ran events and visited community spaces with the spin the wheel feature, an interactive experience designed to kick start conversations about food, community connections and more.

As well as gathering general information and insights residents were also invited to share their thoughts in an online survey.

This is what they discovered and did as a result…

Community action in Gorton

In Gorton, communities expressed an interest in doing more to tackle waste and explore low-carbon food options.

Sustainable fashion workshops

As a result the team coordinated a number of activities with Valery Touchet from VT Creation which helped individuals learn how to repurpose clothes and create garments made from donated materials that would have previously been sent to waste.

Valery started her sessions with a clothes swap, and hosted a presentation about sustainable fashion practices. The sessions had a lot of positive feedback, with Valery commenting on how valuable others found them:

“Learning how to mend clothes is such a valuable skill to have, it saves money and can be a quick easy thing to do. The women really enjoy the sessions and it’s great to see how far they’ve come!”

Low carbon cooking classes

Young people from Crumpsall were invited to Gorton’s Youth Zone for cooking classes with Ngwafu Tansie, owner of gwafuvegan.

Working alongside Ngwafu, our team delivered sessions which showcased how to make delicious, sustainable, low carbon meals, with recipe cards shared at the end of the sessions so young people could re-create at home.

Although some children were apprehensive to get involved with cooking unfamiliar ingredients, Ngwafu commented on how they soon warmed to the sessions once they tried the food.

“At first it’s hard to get them involved because you explain it’s all veggies and everyone’s like ‘oh don’t like this, don’t like that’, but once they get involved and actually cook the food they actually really enjoy the dish!”

Community action in Crumpsall

In Crumpsall, accessibility was brought up as an issue, with some residents commenting on how they didn’t feel like they could visit local nature sites due to mobility issues.

Improving access to greenspace

The team started to work with Crumpsall and Cheetham Model Allotments, who wanted to create a clear, sturdy path to make their allotment easier to walk through.

Once planning and preparation was completed with support from our team, the Groundwork land team got to work laying the foundations, having the path completed for the group within a week.

Ben, the Admin Secretary for the allotment committee, told us about what they planned to do with the new space:

“It makes it easier for certain plot holders, to be able to access more easily so they don’t have to give up their plots. They can come and use a more accessible area to be able to be with other people and have a good time”

Community action in Wythenshawe

In Wythenshawe, the community expressed an interest in learning about how they could introduce a low carbon diet. In response to this, our team hosted a series of Carbon Supermarket events at local Community Centres.

The Carbon Supermarket

The Carbon Supermarket, created by Sow the City, helps residents understand the carbon impact of their weekly shop.

Participants fill their baskets with items they’d usually buy and the team puts through a specialised till which instead of giving them a financial cost, instead gives them a receipt which states how much impact each item has on the environment based on things like the total energy used to produce the item, how far its travelled and so on.

Participants have the opportunity to learn more about the figures behind their food and repeat the exercise to see where they could be making the best changes.

Community action in Harpurhey

In Harpurhey, communities wanted to see both new and existing greenspaces enhanced for nature and community use.

Establishing community connections

Our team began working with a group at Sir Robert Thomas Court, a Sheltered Accommodation for older, more vulnerable people.

While deciding on ideas for the space, we supported the residents in becoming the official ‘Friends Of Sir Robert Thomas’ group. Each member was given a role, and they worked together to agree their objectives which included planting a mini orchard, creating new seating areas and installing water butts for rainwater storage.

The formalised nature of the Friends Of Group increases the likelihood of long-term community action in Harphurhey.

To find out more about the In Our Nature programme, visit the website here: