SEEd has selected over 20 businesses, charities and community organisations of all sizes to bring real life examples of organisations with an environmental and sustainability focus to the participating schools of the Stroud Schools Young Changemakers Programme 2023. The partners site visits, talks, volunteering opportunities, mentoring and are all available to the students on the programme.

It is thrilling to witness the level of the enthusiasm these organisations have for working with schools through the Young Changemakers Programme. Access Bike is a great example of a local CIC project which has refurbished hundreds of bikes to be sold or given away over seven years operating as a project. They up-skill young people from the community in Stroud to fix bikes. Young people can ‘earn’ a bike for themselves through volunteering and refurbishing bikes for sale. They say “we aspire to make cycling easier and more commonly adopted as a sustainable form of travel in Stroud, primarily through our mission of removing financial barriers to owning and maintaining a bike”. 

James Beecher, the Project Leader, sees the enormous scale and radical action required to achieve sustainability – and the need for systemic change! He believes societal perceptions of young people remain a barrier for them. A lack of youth provision and restricted funding for youth projects means that young people are often disadvantaged and disenfranchised, when they could be such a force for the changes that are needed.

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity. They carry out conservation work both in the UK and around the world. Their wetland centres (including Slimbridge in Gloucestershire) engage around a million visitors every year, allowing them to share the wonders of wetland nature. Head of Learning Mark Stead says “It’s important that people understand that they’re a part of nature and not separate from it. I think this disconnect has played a large part in creating the problems we now face”. He says their biggest win is “People demonstrating a love and care for nature because they feel part of it”. Young Changemakers will have the opportunity to visit the Slimbridge centre and witness the impact of the fabulous conservation work they do protecting habitats and species globally.

NoSH is the Network Of Stroud Hubs – connecting hyper local community hubs that serve the diverse needs of their communities. Most of the hubs have gardening projects, opening up opportunities for direct connection with nature regardless of their accommodation circumstances. One of the hubs ran a balconies challenge, encouraging people living in flats to grow food and flowers on their tiny balconies, bringing nature into their homes. The hubs maintain their independence, enabling them to be very responsive and agile to the needs of their immediate community. Working very closely together, they have developed a good surplus food collection system which enables them to provide fresh, locally made/grown and often organic produce on a pay as you can if you can basis. Chop and chat sessions (where people can share cooking skills, and take away a slow cooker if they haven’t got one), community cafes, food gleaning, farmers market surplus collections, using offal that local farmers of high quality, grass-fed livestock cannot sell to make faggots and meatloaf for community freezers, and community pantries are all part of the creative mosaic that makes for an equitable and dynamic food provision.

Local B-Corps and ‘green’ businesses are an important part of the Young Changemakers partner team. Stroud Brewery was set up by Greg Pilley who has a background as an ecologist, and worked in conservation. He did a marine biology degree before working in the local food team for The Soil Association. Moving to Stroud and setting up the business combined his interests in making food for people to enjoy. He didn’t set out to set up a sustainable business, its part of who he is, so it was obvious to him that when he decided to make beer that it would be organic. He travelled a lot around the world and realised that our actions as individuals have a global impact. We all need community, brewing beer is not why he gets up each morning, being able to sit and drink beer connecting with people in community is the motivation. We value Stroud Brewery as a partner on the Young Changemakers programme because they have B-Corp objectives as their overriding principles. Greg says “We take a holistic view of sustainability across the business which is not just about carbon, but about people, environment and community. We try to be transparent, we don’t always get it right, but we have aspirations to be better”.

Sarah Frazer, SEEd Well-being and Community Lead