Merry Yuletide….

So this is our last blog of the year before the still quiet winter moment of the solstice and its associated christmasy spirits take over for a short while…

What a year we’ve had with HGN… some fabulous work from Rebecca Tully and Averil Clother – and from our ever resourceful and resilient Steering Group. We have been very glad to have access to funding and support from Awards for All, Herefordshire Community Foundation, Greggs and Wye Valley Brewery… and indeed from you – our members. The introduction of a voluntary membership fee for the first time in 2018 was a big step – and we are hugely grateful to all of you who have taken this up so readily, and already made your donations to support our ongoing work in the county.

Over 2018 we saw a dramatic increase in organisations choosing to work with this us, plus a 60% increase in subscribers to our regular mailings, and a 60% increase in social media followers … add to that the presence of Extinction Rebellion in Herefordshire and the dramatic work going on around the globe to raise the profile of climate issues and it feels as though we are in a time with some great positive potential – whatever else might be going on out there.

As a Network we also have some very positive news. Our new Administrator, Alice Waddington, will step into role on the 7th January. Alice is new to Herefordshire and will bring lots of energy and expertise to her role with HGN. We’re very much looking forward to working with her – and to you all meeting her…

So .. over the coming weeks if you find yourselves gathered with friends and neighbours around festive fires, or walking out amongst the dark wintery woods and hills of Herefordshire, perhaps you will be able to take a moment of reflection on the year that has been, and with that bring a feeling of hope to the prospect of the year ahead…

Touching Ground

In a time of climate turbulence, in an age of stupid, in a culture of intolerance Touching Ground are offering a short course for anyone who would like an opportunity to explore our need for wisdom and reconnection…

Over the course of four weeks the course will generate a space for conversation and exchange… investigating our need for renewed connection with the land, and exploring our abiding sense of our selves as part of – not separate from – a rapidly changing ecosystem.

There are many in the environmental movement for whom the context of human use and abuse of the world’s resources has been a life’s work. Conversations will recognise the place of grief, loss, anger and fear in this context, both on a personal and on a group level.

These feelings will be explored alongside the reassurance and power of ritual connection and grounding.

The 4 week course is offered at a special introductory price of £40. Numbers will be limited to ensure a small group of people. The course will meet from 7.00 – 8.30pm on consecutive Thursday evenings between the 10th – 31st January 2019

For further details & to apply for a place contact kate@aluladown.uk or phone Cecibel on 01600 750567. Priority will be given to those who can book all four evenings.

An HGN visit Jesse…

In November 2018, 4 members of HGN visited Jesse Norman in his surgery to discuss climate related issues and concerns effecting his constituents in Herefordshire.

Gareth Williams (HGN Chair / MD Caplor Energy), Kate Gathercole (HGN Secretary / Associate of New Leaf Sustainable Development), Nick Read (Director Brightspace Foundation / Agricultural Chaplain for the county) and Will Edwards (White House Farm How Caple / The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association), spent 90 minutes in discussion with Jesse. 

Having gathered ideas from HGN members about issues they would like raised (click here to read them all) the four went along with a range of ideas, and some specific asks of Jesse for actions to take forwards.  

Will Edwards invited Jesse to develop his understanding about the carbon sequestration benefits of grass-fed livestock, replete with an example he had prepared earlier – a clod of turf from White House Farm, rich with worms and microbial action.

Nick Read’s engagement with Jesse ranged widely across the moral ethics of international and UK climate needs and policy, and the mismatch of policies from central government and the concerns of Herefordshire communities. Nick has broad connections across Herefordshire communities from Herefordshire Diocese and the NFU, and he chairs the Local Nature Partnership. He wanted to explore how Jesse might contribute to important parliamentary debates that would be taking place on future agricultural and environmental policy, and how HGN might provide relevant briefings to him.

Gareth Williams focused amongst other things on concerns raised by the newly formed HGN Youth Council about plastics in our environment, and Kate Gathercole picked up on the failure of government to provide meaningful visible leadership on climate issues.  

Specific outcomes included: 

  • Jesse Norman committed to Nick Read that he could help to organise some Westminster meetings on specific issues. Jesse indicated that meetings were most likely to take place if we were able to demonstrate the breadth of the groups and networks we represented.
  • Jesse appeared to take on board Will Edwards concerns around grass fed meat, and seemed supportive.
  • He acknowledged the need for two way communication with the Network, and offered to come and speak to the HGN in a public meeting to address our community’s concerns about a lack of Government leadership on climate. 
  • He was keen to hear about the youth group and perhaps engage directly with them
  • He agreed to support Gareth Williams with a piece specifically focused on energy issues.
  • He suggested that he would value meeting with HGN representatives every 6 months
  • We agreed that we will invite Jesse to send us two articles per year on what he understands the Government to be doing to address climate change.

If you would be interested in contributing to the next HGN meeting with Jesse Norman please get in touch. We will be scheduling a meeting for March 2019.  

Funding for Integrated Transport

A few of you out there might be interested in this funding pot that supports (large scale and small scale) innovative transport solutions: FIT favours projects directed to achieve change on the ground, as opposed to reports and policy reviews.

  • Reducing car use for travel to leisure destinations

  • Supporting initiatives that change public attitudes to the car

  • Transforming the quality of the bus service in the UK

  • Supporting local communities that are campaigning to keep their bus services in the face of austerity cuts

  • Supporting grass roots community action for sustainable transport

  • Encouraging organisations active on environmental and social issues to adopt transport as one of their priorities

  • Making access to public transport as much of a human right as access to health or education

  • Making new and existing residential and business developments public transport friendly

  • Supporting the development of a high quality network of coach services for long distance travel, to complement rail services

More information here:

http://integratedtransport.co.uk/fit-social-investment-fund/ .

Contact details are info@integratedtransport.co.uk

Free Funding For Broken Gas Boiler Replacements 

Residents on limited incomes could benefit from new funding to replace broken gas boilers this winter.  Herefordshire Council are one of only a handful of Councils nationally who are able to access the Emergency Central Heating Offer (ECHO) – delivered via the council’s energy advice service Keep Herefordshire Warm.  

A broken boiler during the winter months can be a worrying and stressful experience. For those in poor health, old age and with limited cash, the prospect of cold related ill health is very real – and many worry of ending up in hospital.  With widespread reports of pressures on the NHS in the winter months due to cold conditions, Herefordshire Council are keen to do all they can to help householders stay warm and safe in their homes. 

Robert, from Hereford, contacted Keep Herefordshire Warm after his old gas boiler broke down, leaving him and his wife without heating and hot water. Robert cares for his wife, relying on pensions and with little spare cash, they faced the prospect of entering the colder months without effective heating. He had been unable to access funding earlier in the year. 

Robert was referred for emergency support. Less than two weeks after contact was made a new boiler and radiators were installed throughout the home.   

The Keep Herefordshire Warm scheme provides free and impartial energy advice to local residents through an advice line, home visits and community events. Residents are supported to access grants to repair and replace heating and improve insulation. 

Many people are unaware of the risks that living in a cold home present to their health.  The risk of a stroke or heart attack rises, and other conditions such as colds and flu can become more likely. Just putting on another jumper or relying on one heater isn’t enough for many people. 

Keep Herefordshire Warm Project manager Oliver Rothwell said; 

“We often take calls from people concerned about neighbours or friends who are struggling – either with a crisis like a broken boiler, or often because they are facing daily decisions about whether to heat or eat. Many people struggle on with broken or intermittent systems, unaware that they could be eligible for help.  With the new Emergency Central Heating Offer and home visit support available, we hope to be in a position to help”. 

As well as funding for energy efficiency measures, the service can offer advice on energy tariffs and discounts, suppliers, and how to better use energy at home.  

The Keep Herefordshire Warm team can be contacted on Freephone 0800 677 1432 or through email at khw@mea.org.uk.  Advice is free and impartial to all residents, and covers a wide range of energy topics.  Funding is subject to eligibility criteria, and residents hoping to access funding will need to provide personal information such as their household income or the benefits they receive as part of an assessment. 

Queenswood goes green with new solar panels

Queenswood Country Park & Arboretum has teamed up with local firm Caplor Energy to install solar panels to generate green energy.

New solar panels on the office at Queenswood Country Park

Solar PV electricity generating panels have been installed on the yard buildings, soon to be followed by a small solar thermal hot water system on the back of the Old Tannery building which houses the Visitor Centre and shop. This new technology will produce free electricity and hot water, reducing the site’s carbon footprint and also helping to reduce running costs.

This is the first major phase of exciting renewable technology plans for Queenswood led by managing partners New Leaf Sustainable Development and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust. Since taking on the site three years ago, the team have been making other ‘green’ improvements including water-saving taps, low energy hand-driers, composting and a free water bottle filler to discourage single-use plastic bottles. New recycling bins also arrived this month while the Visitor Centre now stocks a range of eco-friendly products.

Queenswood’s Sustainability lead, Wendy Cotton said: “We are grateful for support from Caplor Energy and hope to have exciting news about further improvements for the site very soon. We want to showcase low impact, sustainable technology and lifestyles at Queenswood to make us as ‘green’ a site as possible while continuing to offer better facilities for visitors.

We’ve been lucky to have all of these improvements externally funded or supported and ultimately, the solar upgrades will help to keep running costs down on site too, so we can continue to invest in other areas such as the woodland playground.”

Gareth Williams, MD at Caplor energy says: “we are very proud to have supported numerous local community based projects over the years.  Queenswood project is hugely inspiring and such an asset to the county, we are very pleased to be working with the team on their renewable journey.”

Permaculture Bursary Places Available!

Bursary places are available for the North Herefordshire 2019 Permaculture Design Course at Applewood.
Join experienced teachers and authors Chris Evans, Tomas Remiarz and Looby Macnamara to discover how permaculture can enhance many aspects of your life, not just your garden.
The course will run over 6 weekends from February to June. The first weekend is a stand alone Introduction to Permaculture
There are 2 bursary places available for this course for those who would not be able to attend otherwise.
Full details
Also many more exciting learning adventures in permaculture and Cultural Emergence coming up for 2019 see our website for more details

XR in Herefordshire

Just over four weeks ago Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the UK was only known to a few hundred people. The Declaration of Rebellion was originally planned as a symbolic action – with perhaps thirty participants – to demand the UK government act in accordance with the climate and ecological emergency we all face. Instead, on 31st October around 1,500 people turned up and took part in spontaneous mass civil disobedience.

As this generated huge national and even international publicity, news of XR began to spread and with it, our ideas connected with thousands of people. Local groups came together and organised autonomously to take action, and around the UK local people are calling on their local Councils to declare a state of Climate Emergency.

Here in Herefordshire we’ve gone from a dedicated team of 5 people a few weeks ago to a march with songs and theatre on the 1st December that saw 500 people attend.

And now local groups are starting to form around the county to bring the XR message to our communities in Herefordshire.

So this is a message to anyone living in the North Herefordshire region who would like to help convince Bill Wiggins to take urgent action and ensure Herefordshire follows in the footsteps of Bristol, London and the Forest of Dean by declaring a Climate Emergency. Please contact Christina: ReclaimOurEarth@outlook.com

And if you would like to come along and see what XR look like in action, join a ‘Singing Emergency’ in Church Street Hereford on Wednesday 19th December, at 6pm – more details here. 

Or click here for a link to the Extinction Rebellion Herefordshire facebook page for general updates for anyone interested to find out more.

An Invitation…

At this turbulent time, filled with so many potentialities, what better than to join a room of Herefordshire green network friends and colleagues – to consider the year that has been, and to look forward at what lies ahead…

December’s HGN AGM is an opportunity to reflect on the year’s work… to hear the inspiring stories about what others around the county and region have been working on, and to plant the seeds of those creative plans and actions we look forward to over the coming year.

Join us at Gwynne House, Left Bank, Hereford, HR4 9DG from 5pm – 6.30pm. Then in the bar at De Koffie Pot for a shared HGN style green drink, mulling on the year that has been and concocting for the year to come. Perry Walker’s ‘Talk Shop’ will follow at 7.30pm over in Left Bank.

Click here for the meeting Agenda, Chair’s Report, Accounts and AGM Minutes from 2017.

Hope to see you there!

A Herefordshire Environmental Educators Forum  

Do you run environmental workshops with young people?

You are warmly invited to meet other environmental workshop providers at Pembridge Primary school on Thursday 6th December from 6.00pm-7.30 pm.

We will be sharing the work that we all do including: exploring the potential for collaborations, considering the possibility of creating an online directory, discussing the formation of a Little Green Schoolbook and sharing our collective wisdom.

The idea of networking like this comes from connections made by the Spring Greens Fair Schools’ Days as well as the wider Herefordshire Green Network. Please get in touch to let us know if you can make it:

Richie Cotterill- Spring Greens Fair and School Days 07777661252 or 01544 231236

Beth Williamson- The Green Schools Project Coordinator- 07729008775

 

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