Our aim is to encourage and energise more local people to make steps towards environmental sustainability – in their homes, their work-places, their community groups, schools, businesses or places of faith.
By holding the week, we hope to shine a light on environmental issues, and to show that ordinary people want to make a difference – and can.
With over 2,000 local people attending events in 2016, plus hundreds more in local schools, the Week has shown that residents across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages do care about creating a sustainable district – and are keen to make changes to support the environment.
Background to the Week
The first week was run in November 2015, the second in 2016; we were so excited when we won awards from the Mayors Pride Awards (Community Champions and Environmental Champions in 2015 & Environmental Champions in 2016).
The first Week coincided with the 2015 Paris Climate Change talks and we gathered over 2,000 postcards from local schoolchildren with their messages about the environment, and delivered them by hand to the UK delegation, making sure young people’s voices were heard at this conference.
How the Week began
It all began when Transition St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth wanted to engage more people in the aim of building a more environmentally sustainable district – across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages.
We knew that loads of local groups were already working hard on environmental issues, but how to translate those messages into a statement about the district we lived in, in a way that would encourage and motivate more people to think about, and DO something about the environment?
We were tired, our energies were waning…until a member of our group said “instead of trying to get busy people to come to our events, why not encourage local groups to increase awareness for their own members: through events or practical actions in their everyday work.” It was a brilliant intervention and Sustainable StAlbans Week was born!
The Week has grown quickly with so much energy and motivation from schools, faith groups, various community and environmental groups, and from local businesses. Each year we have carried out evaluations with the groups involved and taken their feedback on board – for instance we have now moved it to a warmer time of year – in April. We do love our district; we love helping to make Sustainable St Albans Week happen. But it only happens because of the energy and commitment from local groups.
Most of the organising is done by our volunteers and we run the Week on a shoe-string – with volunteers creating a fantastic district-wide network to help share and promote the week, bringing their own creativity; and using their own resources, foot and pedal-power. However we quickly realised that we needed funds to get a part-time co-ordinator and communications person to make it happen. We also needed to pay for a brochure to tell everyone about the events.
The Big Lottery has been amazing and supported us with our core funding costs of £10K funding for three years running. Each year this core funding enabled us to get off the ground. Three years is the limit for Awards for All funding, so after this year, things must change.
Why Sponsorship lies at the heart of the Week.
Further sponsorship from local businesses has been essential. Our local sponsors have been enthusiastic, creative and positive supporters bringing added value from their unique perspectives. Spnosorship support has enabled us to distribute more brochures; pay a local graphic designer, make promotional videos, and also to create one-off events – such as the Postcards to Paris initiative in 2015; and the Food Waste Challenge in 2016 – and to produce and distribute flyers across the district. The Week succeeds or fails based on us reaching local residents and getting them enthused.