A green makeover for Eastbourne

You shouldn't have to travel to get your green space fix. Find out how one coastal community raised funds and lobbied decision-makers to turn their urban centre green.
  Published:  24 Sep 2020    |      2 minute read

Community success

Eastbourne Friends of the Earth has been busy helping to launch the Eastbourne Eco Action Network (EEAN) as part of our Climate Action groups. The aim? To deliver a carbon neutral town by 2030. Andy, the joint co-ordinator, has been blown away by the network's success so far, and is proud to reveal that they've just raised £26,000 to plant over 11,000 trees throughout the town, plus other tree projects.

"The most surprising aspect of the whole project is how far we've come in such a short time," says Andy. "In a way we're victims of our own success! Managing the whole thing is becoming difficult for a team of just volunteers to handle, which is why we're trying to raise funds for paid staff."

In a bid to employ more young people, the team is applying for government funding specifically targeted towards youth employment. It's a savvy move, and follows their recent success with the government's Urban Tree Challenge Fund. This, along with a community crowdfunder and match funding from local council & local businesses, helped EEAN reach its impressive £26,000 figure.

Why do we need more urban trees?

If you never see nature and you don’t spend time in green spaces, you lose an essential part of what it is to be human.

In fact, research shows that people trying to recover from operations  in hospital get better quicker if they can see trees from their window. By planting more trees in towns and cities, we're improving air quality, providing food and shelter for wildlife, and boosting residents' mental health too.

As we face further COVID restrictions, the difference between those with access to green spaces and those without is only heightened. Already, the pandemic has placed an undue strain on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. What's more, 42% of England’s BAME communities live in the most green-space deprived neighbourhoods. It's clear that access to nature is a social justice issue.

How to get more trees in your area

Greening your area is a tall order for one person, so find likeminded people. As Andy explains, the EEAN was set up because local community groups started talking to local councillors. They wanted to hold Eastbourne Borough Council to account after it declared a climate emergency in July 2019.

"Try to facilitate strong local partnerships between as many different groups in town as possible, and with the local council," advises Andy. "Collaboration is key."

One way of building awareness and fostering supporter is through crowdfunding, he suggests. Not only does this raise money, but it also shows grant funders that you have the organisational ability to raise and handle funds. Andy adds, "Some grant funders will match what you raise through crowdfunding. That's happened with our campaign."

Now that you know how to supercharge your group's fundraising ambitions, why not take a look at what other groups around the country are doing?

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