Gwyneth Jones, Communications Manager at DTA Wales, explains how the new Egin programme is helping to unlock the potential of communities in Wales to tackle climate change.
I recently moved back to Wales with the aim of helping my community to become more resilient against climate change. Coming from a rural Welsh community on the Lleyn Peninsula, I am painfully aware of how the strong community ties that my grandparents knew and relied on have faded over the years, and I have a strong desire to help people reconnect to that sense of belonging and meaning.
North West Wales has some of the lowest salaries in the UK, and yet the housing crisis makes affording property, or even renting, a pipe dream for many. But the cost of living crisis is not the only thing we will have to worry about in coming years: climate change will drive prices even higher, as well as sea levels, which is bad news for an area with so many coastal communities.
REAWAKENING OLD TIES
That’s why it’s more important than ever to reawaken those old community ties – to remind people that we can, and have to, work together to face the complex, messy challenges of our times.
I am thrilled to be working on the Egin programme because it seeks to empower communities to come together and create the world they want to live in. Egin is about listening to everyone’s voices, rather than having decisions made by a few and forced on communities from above.
We also need to acknowledge that not everybody will be affected equally by climate change. It will affect those who are already struggling the most, such as ethnic minority communities, those with health issues, and poor coastal, rural communities. Egin aims to reach those most likely to be affected by climate change but least likely to feel included or represented in conversations around climate and sustainability.
WHAT IS EGIN?
Egin supports community groups, charities, non-profits, non-governmental organisations, and social enterprises in Wales to take climate action and to live more sustainably. Our main focus is on helping groups who have not taken any action before, and are not sure about where to start.
We have a team of nine facilitators spread around Wales who are currently reaching into communities and starting no-strings conversations with groups about the challenges and issues that they are facing. If you get in touch with us and we feel that your group is a good fit for Egin, we’ll put you in touch with your nearest facilitator so you can start a conversation.
Some groups will decide to sign up to be supported by Egin. If you do decide to sign up, your Facilitator will help your group to come up with, and decide on, ideas to help your community tackle climate change or live more sustainably, and give you support to work on your Action Plan.
Your Facilitator will then help you to choose a Peer Mentor to continue working with. Mentoring is at the heart of our work at DTA Wales – the idea that real change can only happen from the ground up, by enabling people to connect with each other to share experience, advice and skills.
Egin’s Peer Mentors are people from all across Wales who have already gained experience and skills through working on projects similar to the ones you might want to bring to life and are willing to share their time and experience with you. Each group that joins Egin will get up to three days of peer mentoring.
Mentors can help you with all sorts of projects if the main focus is on engaging with climate change and living in a more sustainable way – we currently have people experienced in working on community gardens, electric vehicles, sustainable public transport, fundraising, communication, waste, carbon reduction, programme development, and repair cafés, to name but a few.
WHAT ABOUT FUNDING?
Egin is totally free for the groups that we support, because it’s funded by a Sustainable Steps Wales – Mentoring grant, which is administered by The National Lottery Community Fund. The funding comes from the Dormant Assets Scheme – which donates money left untouched for more than 15 years in bank accounts and building societies.
Groups who have been through Peer Mentoring as part of Egin might also be able to apply for a grant of up to £15,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund to help with the costs of your project – read more about Sustainable Steps Wales – Egin grants here.
ABOUT DTA WALES
Egin is a programme run by The Development Trusts Association Wales (DTA Wales), which is an independent practitioner-based membership organisation promoting the work of, and supporting the growing network of, development trusts in Wales. Our Vision is one of thriving and resilient communities across Wales, places of possibility where people can take control of their lives through community enterprise, social action and community asset ownership.
DTA Wales was also the organisation behind Renew Wales, which from 2012-2022 supported hundreds of organisations around Wales to tackle climate change and become more sustainable.
Groups that are interested in being supported by Egin can get in touch with us through our website. We are particularly keen to hear from you if you have not taken any climate action before and are looking for support in taking your first steps, and if your group is primarily made up of, or primarily looking to support, underrepresented groups.
You might already have a clear vision for what you want to achieve through Egin’s support, but you might also find it helpful to bring your community together and have your Facilitator help you to come up with and work on your ideas.
We are also keen to hear from you if you have experience in delivering or working on a community-led project and are interested in becoming one of our Peer Mentors. We will be recruiting Mentors for all of our DTA Wales programmes over the next few months on a rolling and as-required basis. If this sounds interesting, read more here.