the project

Action Heroes: Pathways for Creative Leadership in Grassroots Community Development

The ‘Climate Action Heroes’ project links climate action with economic regeneration. It aims to empower young people to imagine and create desirable futures for themselves and their community as they progress into adulthood. Young people across the globe are taking leadership in climate action, as evidenced by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, their voices are raising unprecedented engagement. However, beyond protests and strikes, provision for young people (particularly within the most deprived societal sectors) to engage in long-term place-based climate action is scarce.

The project will engage with schools in some of the most deprived areas in Hackney. It aims to develop young people’s ‘creative leadership’ capacity by boosting skills which are less attended through the school curriculum. It focuses on aligning their personal aspirations with sustainability values, empowering them to envision and create policies, enterprise and environmental championship in their community.

We partner with Citizens UK Hackney, service design agency Snook, Hackney Council, local schools and enterprise incubators. The project has been conceived between all partners to produce contributions at several levels by combining research, co-creation of resources, skill development and public engagement:

  • Outreach: Engaging over 120 young people of different abilities and from various socio-economic, ethnic backgrounds to envision and plan for their future, as well as resourcing them for climate action and regeneration. It will be a key initiative that builds on existing work within Loughborough University’s (LU) ‘Widening Participation’ plans, enhancing place-based relationship between the university and the local community.
  • Ongoing Training: This project will focus partner’s joint efforts to co-create relevant and innovative provision for young people’s long-term, meaningful climate action engagement, as wells as economic regeneration by developing leadership, creativity, digital and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Resources: The ‘Community Action Heroes’ toolkit, comprising a set of activities, digital games and supporting resources. This ‘package’ will be publicly accessible to download online. We will also publish a guide with the methodologies and case study of application in our community, which will be disseminated through partners’ networks to inspire implementation in other UK localities.
  • Policy: Finally, the project also feeds into CUK’s strategy for influencing the London 2021 Mayoral elections’ stand on climate action and economic regeneration with a focus on lower income groups. CUK will adopt the collaborative practices and tools developed through this project for citizens to co-create with decision-makers, promoting a more democratic and inclusive process for local policy-making.
Many young people grow up in homes where making ends meet is the main focus of everyday life. This results in poor participation in public life, which keeps them locked into disadvantage. The Covid19 pandemic aggravates the situation – whilst the urgency to address economic and environmental issues increases, opportunities for young people decrease as they are leaving school in a time when job prospects are severely reduced, placing their wellbeing at risk.
– Laura Santamaria