Climate crisis has seen rise in community-driven responses that have been key in highlighting the scale at which the impacts of climate change are felt and promoting local knowledge for innovation and action (McNamara and Buggy, 2016). Young people are integral members of their communities and should be represented and visible in the community responses to climate change. In addition to opportunities for voicing their opinions on climate issues, conditions under which young people can lead on climate agendas that are meaningful to them in their local communities, continue to be limited.

Climate Heroes Programme
Climate Heroes is a collaboration between Loughborough University London, Citizens UK, East London Mosque, and young people. It is a programme that adapts creative methodologies alongside community organising practices to enhance conditions for youth-led climate leadership. To date, the programme was piloted with five young people who applied digital storytelling and co-design methodologies to listen, interpret, and create a series of stories that reflect on individual interpretation of climate crisis, everyday culture of their community, and faith. These stories brought together insights from young people’s self-reflection, research with their community, and futures thinking and are both a personal narrative and a community call to action.

Dr. Ksenija Kuzmina, Institute for Design Innovation, Loughborough University London
Dr. Antonia Liguori, School of Design and Creative Arts, Loughborough University
Afsana Salik, Tower Hamlets Citizens
Dr. Mahera Ruby, East London Mosque
Young people: Arisha, Zunairah, Ameerah, Haleemah, Hamza and Shuaib.

Interested to learn more or collaborate? Get in touch:

Ameerah’s story
Shuaib’s story
Zunairah’s story
Haleemah’s and Hamza’s story
Arisha’s story

Service designers and community organisers unite for climate action in the Climate Action Heroes project.

The first Community Action Hero workshop took place on 30 July 2020 and brought together professionals from the service design and community organising fields to explore how principles of the two disciplines can be applied to boost creative leadership potential in individuals, groups and systems.

Dr Laura Santamaria, the Project Lead and Lecturer within the Institute for Design Innovation, said:

“The workshop was designed as a playful exploration using storytelling activities and artistic elements to open the conversation on how to empower both disciplines to promote diverse and inclusive ways of thinking, knowing and working in the community engagement sphere.”

Sina Marleen Petersen, a current Institute for Design Innovation student and Research Assistant for the project, said:

“It was a pleasure to kick off our Community Action Hero project and discuss the space of community engagement for building Creative Leadership capacity for social change through synergy between service design and community organising! We talked about the recognition of power, roles and relationships, about affording people space to rest and engage, about how subjectivity helps to uncover what is at the root of a problem, and the legacy of community engagement as an opportunity for capacity building – and so much more.”

The workshop included the likes of Dr Francesco Mazzarella (Research Fellow in Fashion and Design for Social Change at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion), Froi Legaspi (Community Organiser at CitizensUK), Ana Franca-Ferreira (Community Organiser and PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham), Julian Thompson (Strategic Designer and Founder of Rooted By Design), Bethan Mitchell (Service Designer at Snook), and many others.

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.