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Sustainable Merton volunteer shortlisted in the Mayor of London's Volunteering Awards

Joyce Pountain (left) with Merton Friends of the Earth's Co-Coordinator Martha Villegas-Montes (right)

We are delighted to announce that Joyce Pountain - one of Merton's most dedicated volunteers and valued team member of Sustainable Merton, was one of just four individuals shortlisted in the category of London's Environment at the Mayor of London's Volunteering Awards. Although the award was presented to another worthy candidate at the awards ceremony held at City Hall, being shortlisted in such a competitive category is an amazing achievement!

Over the last 10 years, Joyce has been involved with and founded many successful environmental initiatives across the borough and has contributed a huge amount of her time to tackling and raising awareness of local sustainability issues for the benefit of our community and environment.

Sadly, Joyce will be leaving Merton later this year, so we want to take this opportunity to thank her for the all that she has done for the borough and Sustainable Merton. She is truly an inspirational lady!

Joyce's Story

In 2009 Joyce was one of the founders of Transition Town Wimbledon which promoted sustainable lifestyles. She helped the group establish two community gardens, screen films to raise awareness of environmental issues, and run workshops on draught-proofing, crafting and upcycling.

In 2011 Joyce was a founder organiser of Abundance Wimbledon, which brings people together to pick fruit which would otherwise go to waste. Some is distributed to groups helping those in need - the Drop-In Centre providing food for the homeless, Wimbledon Guild, Merton and Morden Guild, Age UK, and Friends in St Helier supporting older people, the New Horizon Centre (Pollards Hill) supporting families, and local food banks. Fruit is also made into jams and chutneys sold on an annual Fruit Day where the group's fruit press is in action producing apple juice for sale, alongside stalls with fruit-themed activities for all ages.

Since 2010 Joyce has organised Green Coffee, a monthly meeting open to all for the discussion of local environmental matters. Joyce produces the monthly follow-up newsletter, with details of all the contributions from individuals and local interest groups. Some of the topics currently being covered include air quality and transport, recycling and litter, open spaces, planning concerns, the climate emergency, and 5G. Past newsletters are archived HERE, in effect a wide-ranging database on everything happening on the green scene and in the community around Wimbledon.

She has also chaired Merton's Environment Sub Group on behalf of Sustainable Merton. The group aims to consider Merton's overall environmental agenda, with particular reference to energy, air quality and food. Joyce has organised speakers and ensured relevant individuals are invited to meetings covering their areas of expertise and interest.

From 2011 -2015 Joyce was a Sustainable Merton trustee, where she contributed to the development of the charity's overall strategy.

The impact of Joyce's volunteering

Transition Town was very successful in raising awareness of climate change issues amongst local residents in the years before climate emergency and global heating rose to their current position near the top of the agenda. Due to many of the leadership team moving away and the overlap with Sustainable Merton's aims Joyce oversaw the closure of the group and the transfer of its assets (financial and personnel) to Sustainable Merton.

Abundance Wimbledon has saved 1-3 tonnes of fruit from going to waste each year of its existence. Over 40 people are involved in picking and distributing the fresh fruit, with more making jams and chutneys. The project is self sustaining with funds raised at Fruit Day covering expenses and going towards new/replacement equipment (fruit-picking poles, trugs, fruit press accessories) and publicity materials. Abundance brings social and physical benefits to its participants, while its donations to local charities benefit hundreds of local residents, young and old.

Attendance at Green Coffee varies from 12 to 20, and the email newsletter reaches almost 100 people. Supporters are often inspired to take action (lobby, donate, attend) on local issues they would otherwise have remained ignorant of. Unwanted Items (ranging from packets of food to craft materials) are donated at each meeting and individuals collect hard to recycle items (coffee packets, plastic lids) for bulk recycling.

Representatives of British Gas, at least 6 departments of Merton Council, sustainability experts and local nature groups, among others, attend the Environment Subgroup and receive Joyce’s reports on the meetings, which disseminates good quality information to a very wide audience.

None of this would happen without the energy, enthusiasm and organisational and communication skills Joyce has given in her support and leadership of all these groups.

Thank you Joyce!

Joyce with her friends and family at the Mayor of London's Volunteering Awards evening at City Hall on 14th October 2019.


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