Sustainable Merton’s Community Champions are a group of 150 local volunteers, passionate about promoting sustainability in Merton. Even a global pandemic did not slow them down! Collectively, the Champions contributed 3000 volunteering hours to Sustainable Merton’s wide range of projects in 2020. This year alone, they spearheaded the opening of a Community Fridge to address food poverty and waste, revived a fading orchard into a vibrant social space, harvested 1000kg of produce from their community garden, cleaned up their local spaces through litter picks, and contributed numerous blogs, web chats, and stories to promote sustainable behaviour change in Merton.
Community Champion Taylor Timinsky described what her involvement with Sustainable Merton has meant to her in this year:
"Passing by empty shelves in the grocery store during the first lockdown, it dawned on me that apart from the occasional herb, I knew little about growing food. That realization led me to Sustainable Merton and I began volunteering with the Phipps Bridge Community Garden team. Learning to grow fruit & veg? Check. Reaping the benefits of nature and comradery? Check. Giving back to the community? Check. Sustainability and climate change often feel like overwhelming challenges to tackle but it's important to celebrate incremental victories. Happiness shouldn't be reserved for perfection. Despite all the setbacks of 2020, Sustainable Merton continues to remind me how much good can come from a group of people looking to better their community.”
The holistic approach to sustainability adopted by Sustainable Merton provides an opportunity for everyone to contribute as a Champion, resulting in a vibrant mixing of life experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge. This welcoming environment has meant the Champions activities have provided invaluable social opportunities in a time when social isolation has reached unprecedented levels.
Reflecting on why she joined, Community Champion Anca Tacu said: