New BTCV app will help you to grow your own!

BTCV is today launching a free mobile app to get the world growing.

The Get Growing app features a unique one touch calculator which allows users to enter their garden, balcony or plot size to find out exactly how much food they could grow.

It also tells potential growers how much money they could save on supermarket fruit and veg purchases and how many food miles (the distance food travels from source) they could avoid.

The Get Growing app is part of BTCV’s Carbon Army campaign to encourage more food growing as a response to climate change.

The app can be downloaded from the iTunes store here.

Posted in 2 Sustainable living, 4 Environmental entrepreneurship, 5 Environmental leadership | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Funding available for civil society organisations – household reward and recognition scheme

Civil society organisations and local authorities are invited to bid for limited funding to introduce or trial new schemes that reward or recognise people or communities for adopting positive behaviours towards managing their waste, such as recycling more or producing less waste. 

A support package of £500K is available for such schemes for 2011/12, and there may be further funding available in future years.

Announcing the scheme as part of the Government’s waste review last week, Lord Henley said:

People want to do the right thing and recycle more – and local communities know what’s best to make this happen.

I want to tap into the ideas from the best and brightest local entrepreneurs and organisations to develop exciting and innovative new ways to boost our recycling rates even further.

Further information can be found on this Defra news release.  To download an application form, guidelines and detailed information please visit this page on the Defra website.  Please note that applications should be submitted by 17:00 on 26 July 2011.

Posted in 2 Sustainable living, 3 Public services, 4 Environmental entrepreneurship, 5 Environmental leadership, 7 Understanding the sector | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Catchment Restoration Fund announced

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced a £110 million fund to improve the health of more than 880 lakes, streams and other water bodies, and to increase local involvement in caring for them.

£92 million will be provided over the next four years to remove non-native invasive species, clear up pollution and remove redundant dams, weirs, landings and other man-made structures to enhance biodiversity in water catchments across England.

The funding will be shared between the Environment Agency, Natural England and civil society associations such as the Association of Rivers Trusts to build on successful work.  

A significant portion of the funding will be used to support new local projects across the country through a Catchment Restoration fund.  Funding from the Catchment Restoration fund will be available from next year, to co-fund projects to restore and protect the health of our water catchments by bringing together those responsible for causing pollution, those who want to see cleaner waters and the agencies that provide scientific evidence to underpin decisions.

£18 million will be provided this year to continue to help farmers put in place measures to protect watercourses and take other action to prevent agricultural pollution, under the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme.

For more information please see the Defra news release.  More information on the Catchment Restoration Fund will be posted on this blog when it becomes available.

You may also be interested in the “Our Rivers” campaign, which is led by WWF-UK, RSPB, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association.

Posted in 1 Advocacy voice campaigning policy, 2 Sustainable living, 3 Public services, 9 Better partnerships, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Have your say! Action to boost support for civil society and cut council red tape

The Department of Communities and Local Government is consulting on new Best Value guidance, which sets out some reasonable expectations on the way best value authorities (which include local authorities) should work with voluntary and community groups when facing difficult funding decisions.

Under the duty of best value, the guidance says that authorities should consider overall value, including environmental and social value, when reviewing service provision.  The guidance contains arrangements for wide consultation and specifies that authorities should be sensitive to the benefits and needs of voluntary and community sector organisations.  It contains provisions that should be adhered to when seeking to avoid passing on disproportionate cuts, including a minimum notice period when reducing or ending funding, early engagement, and arrangements to invite civil society organisations to reshape services or projects.

DCLG would would welcome comments from any organisations or individuals with an interest.  The consultation closes on 14 June 2011.  To download a copy of the consultation document, and to obtain details on how you can respond to the consultation, please see this link to the DCLG website.

Posted in 11 Better commissioning, 2 Sustainable living, 3 Public services, 5 Environmental leadership, 8 Joining things up, 9 Better partnerships, Embedding sustainable development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Announcement of London 2012 Inspiring Sustainable Living projects

Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary visited the View Tube (a social enterprise and community venue) on 28 March and announced the successful recipients of the £800,000 Olympics Inspiring Sustainable Living grant.

Using the Olympic Games as inspiration, the Inspiring Sustainable Living grants will help local community groups develop practical and achievable ways for residents to live more sustainably, such as turning derelict land into accessible green spaces, recycling more, and travelling more sustainably.

Announcing the projects, Ms Spelman said:

“Most people have a real desire to do the right thing by making more sustainable choices that are good for our planet.

London 2012 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to inspire genuine change and provide a model of how living sustainably can be incorporated into whole communities as we build a green economy. These projects will contribute by making a practical difference in the community and leave a lasting green legacy.”

Inspiring Sustainable Living is providing start-up grants of £200,000 to four projects for one year, to deliver results by March 2013.  The projects are:

  • One Planet Experience (BioRegional): Recruiting 2,012 inspirational role models, including Olympians and Paralympians, to help them achieve more long-term sustainable lifestyles, and act as community leaders for sustainability. An interactive sustainability centre at the Games will encourage athletes to make and keep their sustainability pledges. Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola will also provide support for this project.
  • Inspired to Sustainable Living (East Potential): Providing practical advice and assistance to social housing tenants to increase recycling rates and develop better understanding of nutrition for disadvantaged young people.
  • Transform Project (Groundwork London): Transforming 20 areas of derelict land into local green spaces or community gardens, as well as improving local recycling rates and empowering people to lead more sustainable lifestyles and engage in environmental volunteering.
  • Active Travel Champions (Sustrans): Providing training and support to volunteers so that they can encourage people in workplaces, schools, universities and communities to make healthier and more environmentally-friendly long-term transport choices.

Defra worked closely with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) on selecting the projects which aim to help people live more sustainable lives using the inspiration of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The projects will benefit from Olympic ‘Inspire Mark’ endorsement and will be included in London 2012 official promotional materials.

Further information can be found on this Defra press notice and this article in SD Scene.  Please see this blog post for background material on the Olympics Inspiring Sustainable Living programme.

Posted in 2 Sustainable living, 4 Environmental entrepreneurship, 5 Environmental leadership, 8 Joining things up, 9 Better partnerships, Embedding sustainable development, Ministerial task force | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Consultation: moving inland waterways into a new charity in England and Wales

Have your say!  Defra launched a consultation yesterday seeking views on how, in future, the inland waterways in England & Wales could be run.  They are currently managed on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  The consultation sets out the rationale for moving these waterways out of the public sector and into a new civil society organisation, and the principles which will guide the Government in deciding on the way forward.

The creation of a New Waterways Charity (NWC) is intended to give waterways users, and their local communities, a greater involvement in how the waterways are managed.  The proposal aims to help the waterways to be more financially sustainable, as the new charity will have access to new sources of commercial and private income, and fundraising, including legacies and donations.  It will create the opportunity to grow a strong base of volunteers who can help maintain a range of waterways assets, through their knowledge, expertise, passion and commitment.

The consultation is aimed at:

  • people who use the waterways as part of their daily lives or have an interest in them;
  • people who do not use the waterways but want to or who could potentially benefit from them;
  • people actively involved in the waterways;
  • minority groups with an interest in the waterways;
  • business users of the waterways, including hireboat and commercial operators, boat builders;
  • waterside businesses and businesses with an indirect stake;
  • national and local government and key national and local stakeholders;
  • national and local interest groups;
  • national interest groups such as environmental and recreational non-governmental organisations and industry federations;
  • statutory advisers to Government.

To download the consultation document and find out how to respond, please see this page on the Defra website.  The closing date for responses is 30 June, 2011.

Further information can also be found on this British Waterways press release.

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Do you want to help inform Defra’s policy making?

We are recruiting for four positions on Defra’s Civil Society Advisory Board.  This opportunity is open to anybody with a strong understanding of civil society and its interface with Government.  The board meets quarterly.  Applicants will join the Board in a personal capacity.

We are seeking applications from people able to provide authoritative, high-level advice to Defra Ministers and senior officials about the broad range of Defra’s policy interests and the Department’s relationship with civil society.

Defra’s Civil Society Advisory Board was established in April 2009 as a non-executive advisory group. The role of the Board is to:

  • provide advice to Defra’s Ministers, Management Committee and policy officials about the most effective ways of engaging with civil society in England, to contribute to the delivery of Defra’s priorities and related Departmental Programmes;
  •  provide support and challenge to the Department on the decentralisation of power and responsibility and the effective promotion of Big Society approaches;
  • provide advice about the civil society implications of Defra’s policies or operations;
  • provide advice about the ways in which Defra can further embed the principles of the Compact into its day to day operations.

As a result of Board members stepping down, there are now four vacancies which we are seeking to fill by the end of April 2011.  If you are interested in applying to be a member of the Board, please see the Civil Society Advisory Board – guidance for applicants and the Civil Society Advisory Board Application Form.

The deadline for applications is Friday 1 April 2011.

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Francis Maude launches Pathfinder mutuals

The first wave of Pathfinder mutuals have been launched by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.  The Pathfinders will be run by entrepreneurial public sector staff, who will take over delivery of their services. 

As part of the Government’s commitment to support the innovation and entrepreneurialism of front line staff, twelve fledgling public service spin-offs have been chosen to be Pathfinders for the mutuals initiative.  These pathfinders will be trailblazers for the rest of the public sector – helping Government establish, by learning from the front line, what type of support and structures will best enable the development of employee-led mutuals on an ongoing basis.

The pathfinders will be supported by expert mentors from some of the country’s most successful businesses and leaders in employee ownership models.  All the mentors have offered their support for free and will work with staff in the Pathfinder projects to help them develop a range of sustainable, efficient and pioneering employee-led services.

The mentors will include staff from the John Lewis Partnership, probably the country’s best-known co-owned business, as well as from PWC, KPMG, Tribal, Baxi Partnership, Care and Share Associates, Sunderland Home Care Associates, Central Surrey Health, Local Partnerships, Godrevy, GLL (Greenwich Leisure), and The Office for Public Management will also be providing mentors.  Also, leading lights in this field, like Lord Victor Adebowale of Turning Point, have offered to be mentors.

The Pathfinders have a range of different innovative business models.

The Pathfinders are:

  • An awarding body setting up as a mutual by a consortium of FE colleges;
  • The London Partnership – creating a ‘Reducing Multiple Disadvantage’ Community Interest Company from a group of DH, LA, PCT and NHS staff;
  • The Department of Health’s London and SE Learning Disability Team forming a regional Community Interest Company;
  • Hammersmith and Fulham Children’s Services exploring new models of delivery with staff, possible commercial partners and neighbouring local authorities;
  • North East Essex PCT spinning out into a Community Interest Company;
  • The creation of a social enterprise for delivery of housing support services to vulnerable people in Mansfield, bringing together a range of public sector workers;
  • The Lambeth Resource Centre exploring options for coproducing services with employees, service users and third sector organisations to provide rehabilitation support for people with physical and sensory impairment;
  • NHS employees forming a social enterprise to provide joined up services for homeless people in Leicester;
  • Teaching and administrative staff planning to set up a Trust to run Newton Rigg Agricultural College in Cumbria;
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea working with employees to examine the potential for different models of employee led youth support services;
  • Integration of Community Health and Adult Social Services in Swindon into a cooperative; and
  • Westminster City Council working with employees in Children’s Services and neighbouring local authorities to move towards creating an arms-length mutual organisation.

For further information please see the Cabinet Office press announcement.

Posted in 3 Public services, 9 Better partnerships | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Greenprint to 2050

[This is a guest post from Trewin Restorick from Global Action Plan.  Trewin is a member of the Defra Civil Society Advisory Board]
Climate Squad
Climate Squad, now 1 year old, is embarking on a new adventure that will outline the steps youth want to take for a low carbon 2050 – empowering them to take charge and shape their future!

Launched in June 2010 at the Barbican Centre in London, the Greenprint to 2050 will gather over 1000 young people’s visions of 2050 to create a report outlining what young people want their low carbon future to look like. The Greenprint covers six key topics: education and employment, energy, healthcare, home life, leisure and transport.

The Greenprint encourages young people to think positively about taking action on climate change. After creating a positive vision of how they would like their low carbon future to be, young people will be equipped with an invaluable tool – a goal, a dream and a vision to aspire to!

Once complete, Climate Squad will work with volunteers towards achieving the vision. The first step will be to present the Greenprint to political leaders and corporates at the House of Commons – demonstrating the desire for change and taking the first step towards turning the vision into reality.

16-25 year olds can take part across the country through online questionnaires, group workshops and online debates. Climate Squad also works with youth groups, schools and universities across the country to deliver Greenprint workshops.

If you are interested in the workshops or would like more information please e-mail

Posted in 10 Enabling our delivery bodies, 2 Sustainable living, 9 Better partnerships | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Free Parliament workshop on energy and the green economy

The Houses of Parliament is holding a free workshop for groups and organisations interested in issues relating to energy and the green economy, on how to engage with Parliament’s scrutiny of legislation.

The workshop is free to attend and open to any individual or organisation with an interest in energy and the green economy.  The workshop will be held on Friday 10 September 2010.  It will be strictly non-partisan.

Further details of what the workshop will cover can be found on this page on the Parliament website.  For more details on the workshop, please call Daniel Wood (07917 488839) or Matt Ringer (020 7219 4623) in the Parliamentary Outreach Team.

Please note that places are limited so you are asked to telephone or email to book in advance.

Posted in 8 Joining things up | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment