Community Champions Update: Celebrating #VolunteersWeek 2021



Volunteers’ Week takes place between 1-7 June every year and is a time to recognise and thank volunteers. During an exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to volunteer and made a huge difference to people and their communities – just as they do every year. Our Community Champions are no exception.


As the Community Champions Project Manager, I have witnessed first hand the dedication, enthusiasm, and passion of our Champions and feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with them. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight their contributions to Sustainable Merton’s many projects this year and thank them for all they have done to make Merton a healthier, happier, and more sustainable place to live.


Thank you Community Champions and happy #VolunteersWeek!


New Faces: Celebrating our newest Champions


New Community Champion Kuziva was recently the guest speaker at the event "All is One: Art and climate crisis" and wrote a blog all about the healing powers of nature. She is an artist and independent researcher with a focus on African women and sustainability through an African lens. She said: “I think that it is so important to live as sustainably as possible and becoming a Community Champion allows me to do this”. Thank you, Kuziva!


Community Champion Alex joined Sustainable Merton a few months ago. Alex said: "I have joined Sustainable Merton as I believe that building strong community ties and promoting a sustainable lifestyle are inseparable goals." Having a background in Philosophy, Alex wrote a beautiful blog on Forest Bathing, the practice of Shinrin-yoku.

Thank you, Alex!



Community Champions Miriam and Arán joined Sustainable Merton less than a year ago and have already contributed some inspiring stories and tips to living more sustainable lives including a blog on sustainable spring cleaning. “I thought of sharing my top tips on shopping in an ecofriendly way because I think that we all learn as we go along, from our different experiences, and so I think we can all learn from each other”, said Arán. Thank you, Miriam and Arán!


Community Champion Daniel joined Sustainable Merton this year and has since become a valued Fridge Friend at Merton’s Community Fridge. Daniel said: “I joined Sustainable Merton because I want to help promote sustainable living within Merton and raise awareness about the challenges associated with climate change”. Thank you, Daniel!



#GoodFoodMerton: Growing Spaces and Food Places


Following their record breaking harvest in 2020, Phipps Bridge Community Garden has continued to be a haven for the Champions and a source of significant wellbeing value. Phipps volunteer Taylor said: “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”. Read Taylor’s story in the Wimbledon Times! Our Phipps volunteers have contributed countless hours to this flagship garden, creating a vibrant social space and reducing food miles. Thank you Phipps volunteers!


Since restarting Action Days at Mitcham Community Orchard and Gardens last year, our Community Champions have rallied around this beautiful community space. These Champions have contributed countless hours of digging, planting, and harvesting and deserve a big round of applause. Champions Elaine and Sam have shared what the Orchard has meant to them. Read their story here. Thank you Orchard volunteers!


So far this year, our 36 Fridge Friends of Merton’s Community Fridge have stopped over 4,000kg of surplus food from going to waste and instead have redistributed this to the community. Through their kindness and dedication, they have contributed to reducing food poverty in Merton. Thank you Fridge Friends!


Community Champion Food team (past and present) Blanca, Emma, and Sebastian want Merton residents to reap the benefits of gardening, cut food miles, and inspire others to cut their food waste. Among other activities, they have written blogs on Covid and food waste and Covid and the food system. Thank you Food Team!


Waste Warriors: Making Merton Cleaner and Greener


Every month, many of our Community Champions take to the streets for our #WasteWarriors weekend litter picks. “Two people stopped to thank us as we cleared the footpath which made our day!” said one Waste Warrior. These Champions are helping make streets and green spaces cleaner and safer for everyone. Thank you #WasteWarriors!


Thank you to our Waste Community Champion Team Alyson, Sophie, Jenna, and Luca! This team are experts on the 4 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refill) and have contributed numerous stories, and articles to inspire others to become #WasteWarriors, including blogs on greener periods and reducing food waste. Thank you Waste Team!


Air Quality: Helping us all #BreatheCleanerAir


Our dedicated team of Community Champions involved in our air quality monitoring project have now collected 6 month’s worth of data on NO2 levels throughout Merton. Together with Merton Council and Colliers Wood Parks and Green Spaces group, they are building an evidence base that we can use to inform air quality policy. Thank you air quality monitoring team!


Our Air Quality Community Champion Team of Kathryn, Taylor, Ailish, and Uday are passionate about promoting active travel and cleaning up Merton’s air. They have contributed many stories and articles to inspire others to live healthier and happier lives including active travel and helping residents overcome cycling concerns. Thank you Air Quality Team!


Energy


A big thank you to our Energy Community Champion Team Michael, Anca, Dave, and Phil! This team has created an abundance of resources to help Merton residents save money and use less energy including a Q&A with electric car owners and guidance for first time electric car buyers. Through lots of research and creativity, they have made energy saving simple, enabling us all to make a change and cut our carbon footprint. Thank you Energy Team!


Spreading the word


Our resident graphic design experts Cecily, Jo, Hoagy, and Katy help us make sustainability fun and approachable through turning educational information into colourful and engaging resources. Stay tuned for the sustainability handbooks that they have helped come to life. Thank you Champions!


Blog by Rachael Edwards

Community Champions Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator