Project 4F: Supporting faith communities to take action on climate change
Footsteps received funding and data from the 3D Data Hub to support faith communities to take action on climate change. We worked alongside Ecobirmingham, Act on Energy and The Active Wellbeing Society on Project 4F: Faiths For a Fair, low carbon Future. Now that the initial funding has come to an end, we review how Project 4F worked, it’s challenges and successes.
The project made a significant contribution to the local community and received national recognition. The project emphasised the importance of engaging with faith communities, including through:
- fuel poverty support for people struggling to pay their energy bills,
- inspiring behaviour change,
- encouraging energy assessments in places of worship.
Project 4F supported faith communities with understanding climate change and how to take climate action in their own lives. To do this we aimed to widen the range of places of worship Footsteps and the project partners engaged with. Like many others, people of faith are keen to get started on a journey to a low carbon future, but there can be obstacles to overcome. Barriers have included a lack of understanding around climate change and where to start, finding ways to engage with the communities themselves and addressing the issues with faith buildings, such as being draughty and leaking wasted energy.
How Project 4F worked
Faith community mapping
Using data from the 3D Hub, and support from CSE, digital maps were created to identify places of worship across the city. Key local data included fuel poverty, the energy performances of houses, waste, and air pollution data. The maps are now viewable and searchable on the Footsteps website to support community engagement surrounding fuel poverty, waste reduction, and energy efficiency advice in faith communities to plan activities. View the online Faith Community Map.
Identify faith buildings for building assessments, carried out by EcoBirmingham
Many faith and community buildings are out of date and need improvement. Using existing relationships within the faith community, and data from the 3D Hub, suitable faith buildings were identified for EcoBirmingham to assess. Assessments highlight how to save energy and money, and how to use energy efficiently.
Energy advice and fuel poverty support
Increasing engagement with people in vulnerable circumstances was important to extend energy advice through faith communities. Support included a ‘fund and fuel’ voucher scheme worth £1100 to help alleviate fuel poverty. This was delivered by Act on Energy who ran events to engage with places of worship, encouraging people to contact their Warm Homes project for support.
Encourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling
Often, the most vulnerable and isolated in a community won’t know how to begin reducing their waste. Three ‘swishing’ events were held around Birmingham by the Active Wellbeing Society. The events encouraged faith communities to swap – or ‘swish’ – clothes instead of throwing them away. There were also volunteers to help repair household items, and offer a safe space to ask for advice and support.
Radio shows on Unity FM
Unity FM Birmingham is the UK’s largest Muslim community radio station. The project team secured fortnightly radio shows providing appropriate information and advice about climate change, increasing their reach to multiple communities.
Making links and partnerships
Through the project, the UK Climate Change Committee met with faith leaders, the council and six members of Footsteps, to talk extensively about what net zero means at a community level. This meeting increased the credibility of the project with the council and campaigning organisations, made the project more known to other faith communities, and highlighted the team effort from all the delivery partners.
Through household advice and support people’s financial burdens have been eased. Fewer items have been wasted and the costs of replacing/repairing minimised.
- 61 adults and children supported with energy advice and small energy saving measures.
- £882 of fuel vouchers distributed.
- £250 a year saved on average by each home supported.
- 46 items of clothing and household appliances saved from landfill.
- Seven shows broadcast on Unity FM on energy efficiency, communicating climate change, and reducing waste.
Money saved by places of worship on energy can be put towards other beneficial projects in the community. Having prominent examples of energy saving measures will encourage local communities to start thinking about their own consumption, making places of worship great sources for learning about energy use and its impacts.
- 12 building assessments carried out on places of worship.
- £2141 of small grants provided to places of worship for energy saving measures.
- 6.6 tonnes CO2 a year saved at places of worship.
This project has laid the foundations for developing relationships with key faith leaders and places of worship. The team are exploring an energy champion network and will continue to work on the faith mapping, under the ‘Project 4F’ title.
A short video has been created to highlight the importance of saving energy to local Muslim communities. This will be shared on social media, supported by multiple Mosques that the project partners will continue to work with to strengthen energy advice, signposting and support.
Throughout this project, valuable links have been formed between the project partners and other organisations. The project has been successful based on good communication, shared priorities, and a determination to help people. There’s been interest in the faith mapping work from NHS for social prescribing and the West Midlands Police Commissioners Office violence reduction unit.
Chris Martin, Project Coordinator at Footsteps, has been asked to present to the West Midlands Combined Authority green event and has received an award from the Birmingham Council of Faiths. Chris commented
“working with CSE 3-D has been a valuable experience for Footsteps. It has helped consolidate Footsteps’ key role in bringing faith communities together in Birmingham around climate justice and environmental concerns. Working with partners Ecobirmingham, Act on Energy and The Active Well-being Society has given Footsteps experience of collaborating with larger organisations with shared aims and values. This has led to launching our energy champion project addressing the energy efficiency and price crisis many Birmingham households face this coming winter.”
Thanks to the 3D Data Hub for funding and support for Project 4F. For more information about the 3D Data Hub, and how it can help local projects, visit the 3D website.