Introducing Futurechangers

Futurechangers is a groundbreaking cohort programme that will run for the first time during 2022 in London. The aim of the programme is to increase the diversity of environmental activism.

Young people who might not otherwise consider a career in campaigning, but are more likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change, are introduced to the subject of car dependency and the costs felt by people, the city and the environment.

The cohort receives training over multiple sessions. They are guided in creating sustainable transport campaigns, culminating in a paid work placement at an environmental charity.

For participants

The Futurechangers programme aims to encourage students to think about pursuing a career in environmental campaigning.

Paid campaigning work is fulfilling and offers a range of good opportunities that young people might not otherwise consider as a career path. In addition you get to change the world for the better.

For employers

Cohort members go through a rigorous selection process with training on car dependency and campaigning techniques across six months.

By the time of the placement in April the cohort will be working on their own campaigns in pairs. It is hoped to match pairs to relevant environmental organisations based on the campaign topics.

We’ll provide support to both employers and the cohort ahead of, during and after the placement to ensure everyone gets the most from it.

The placement lasts six days during the first half of April 2022.

Because unpaid internships have been a barrier to taking up work in this sector in the past, the cohort will be paid London Living Wage for their six day placement. We can help with topping up wages if that is an issue for smaller organisations.


Railway service cuts

Railway services have been cut throughout the UK in response to the pandemic. Despite rising passenger levels many of these services have not been restored. This is a very quick analysis of the immediate response. If you think a service cut is missing, please add it below.

Results so far

Q1. Where did the service run from?
Q2. Where did the service run to?
Q5. Who operated the service?

Towards a more inclusive environmental activism

We can be better

The virus pandemic has created new threats and opportunities but also put on hold some important work, including our response to climate change. Before the crisis I began exploring ways to make my environmental activism more inclusive.

From years of work as a campaigner I’d noticed that mainstream environmental activism was visibly white and the discourse it was having often referred to costs of environmental pollution and climate change falling disproportionately amongst BAME communities. But often these conversations sound as if people of colour were not there in the room with us. The reason for this I fear is because they often are not. An example is air pollution in London which affects the poorest and most diverse neighbourhoods more than the others. Repeatedly, and I know I’ve been guilty of this, we’ve failed to amplify the voices of those affected and instead refer to people as if they have no voice.

The Black Lives Matter protests brought all this back to the foreground of my thinking.

A mistake, to my mind, of environmental campaigning and its attempts to become more diverse, has been to tentatively invite black and minority ethnic people into the world of paid campaigning. I say tentatively as barriers to entry remain and the burden of potentially being the only person of colour within an organisation is draining and offputting. Far more work needs to be done to identify, connect with and include campaigners of colour.

But environmental activism has demonstrated it is capable of being inclusive. So much work has been done on gender balance and I’m constantly inspired by the high calabre of women in this sector who now occupy senior roles. This shows we are capable of being better and there is no excuse not to be for people of colour. And before anyone reads this the wrong way, I’m not saying there are no people of colour in mainstream environmental activism. What I’m saying is back when I had a desk to go to when I’d look up and around almost all the people I saw were white. You can’t claim to speak for people you do not include.

As I’ve found in other contexts, when you do not create spaces that are inclusive, the people you claim to want to include will organise without you and have their conversations elsewhere.

Last year I was introduced to The Advocacy Academy, a fellowship organisation for young people in Brixton. I’d hoped I might be able to offer the group some help and guidance on environmental activism. I was naïve and when I found out more about their work I saw that they really didn’t need my help. What I found were bright young activists already acutely aware of the environmental and transport inequality they were living with and taking compelling actions on their own.

I came away from meeting this group inspired and with new ideas in mind. How does mainstream (by which I really mean white) environmental activism connect with, celebrate and find synergy with powerful groups like this? And there will be other groups, I have no doubt about that. Because we incorrectly imagine that people of colour are not campaigning on environmental issues when they do not come forward to join white folks. But the truth is they have created their own spaces where they are unburdened by the limitations of white activism.

Reacting to the virus has diverted me from this, but now I’m ready to make my activism more inclusive and respectful of the work that happens in spaces I’m not part of.