Community Learning Programme

ecobirmingham Environmental Community Learning Programme

  • Do you work or volunteer with a community organisation based in Birmingham?
  • Would your organisation like support in 2021 to become more environmentally friendly?
  • Would you like to know how to support more activity to promote greener & healthier lives in your area?

We are looking for people who can offer around 6 days of their time and expertise over 2021. In exchange, we will offer free support in developing an environmental action plan for your organisation and your community through peer support, training and fundraising support.

What are the benefits of joining the programme?

  • Learn from your peers: Find solutions to the issues your organisation/community is facing by working with other local leaders facing similar challenges.
  • Build confidence of staff and volunteers in environmental issues and more.
  • Enable staff and volunteers to solve issues on a local level to help your residents become healthier and your area greener.
  • Activate community action on a local level, improving the local environment and health.
  • Build a trusted network of connections to support you now and in the future.
  • All it takes is your time: There is no cost to join, other than a few hours of your organisation’s time across 2021.

The Offer

ecobirmingham will:

  • Interview you to identify your environmental needs as an organisation and for your local area.
  • Work with you to develop a simple action plan for your organisation and community which will help priortise some next steps over the next 12 months.
  • Develop a menu of support based on existing evidence, good practice and other partners to help progress some of the next steps. This could include training, research, toolkits, and help to identify resources, such as funding opportunities, evidence and partners to support bids.
  • Hold around 6 half-day events across the year to provide a blend of input into the development and tailoring of resources, training linked to your action plan, learning from other communities, and guest speakers.
  • Send out newsletters over the year containing funding and resource updates
  • Acknowledge the support of your organisation in any resulting resources and toolkits

Your community organisation will:

  • Identify an individual to be the key contact and champion (but they can involve whoever they want in different parts of the programme over the year.)
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the programme through a member of the management or board, stating why improving environmental performance is important for their organisation and community and how it fits within their existing plans and activities.
  • Be able to offer six days of staff or volunteer time over the year to participate in the programme and provide feedback.
  • Be willing to share issues and learning within a peer group of around 10 other community organisations.
  • Acknowledge the support of ecobirmingham, the National Lottery, and other participants in the development of any action plans and resources.

For further enquiries or questions please contact the Programme Manager Jackie Careless [email protected]

Further information

What is the Community Learning Programme?
The goal is to help support a network of ‘local environmental hubs’ that will be able to deliver a range of local activity and work together to build the longer term capacity of all communities across Birmingham, building back better for a greener and healthier future.
The programme has been developed as a result of the Greener Birmingham Coalition and ecobirmingham’s city-wide and local consultation exercises with residents and community organisations over the last 2 years. This identified a desire for communities to live in greener and healthier neighbourhoods, to act locally and share learning between communities.

Listening and understanding
We aim to work with a diverse range of community organisations across Birmingham so that we have a broad view of local communities, engaging with those with different income, backgrounds, and ethnicity, reflecting the people who make up the city. This will help build a picture of the different needs and existing practice to help community organisations become more environmentally friendly, and how to help promote more activity that leads to green and healthy changes in their local area.

Building a learning network
The programme will develop a learning network of over 10 local community organisations representing different types of organisation and areas of Birmingham. This network will run over 12 months from January to December 2021. It will involve representatives from the organisations meeting virtually or in person up to 6 times over the year to test and discuss research, toolkits, mentoring, training, local data and sharing needs and learning to help develop and deliver action plans for their organisations and communities. This will also help staff and volunteers of these organisations to feel confident in environmental issues and a way to move forward to help solve those issues on a local level.

Action planning

The action plans will consist of:

  • Prioritised actions, next steps for the next year, and sources of potential help for each community organisation.
  • An area action plan with prioritised actions and next steps for the next 12 months, as well as sources of potential help and partners locally.
  • Sources of existing local data and mapping of existing assets such as green spaces or grassroots community activity. Both plans will help when developing future funding applications or projects.

Questions the programme seek to answer:

How to help individuals from different communities and circumstances make more sustainable choices
What are the easiest, most effective, and enjoyable actions for individuals from different communities and circumstances across Birmingham to take part in that will help improve their local environment and health?

What is the role of a ‘community of place’ in supporting individuals actions?

  • Which actions are best supported by a community of place, such as local organisations working with others within a local place, compared to a community of interest, such as working with others based on a sport, profession, political, religious, or social media groups.
  • Is the local council ward the right local scale to support action at?
  • What builds the long-term capacity of a community of place to be able to secure resources, coordinate, and deliver effective action to help improve the local environment and health of an area? What is the role of locally focused community organisations within this?

What is the best way to deliver support for local community organisations and their areas?

  • What is the role of toolkits providing local data to inform action plans, digital and in person training?
  • What is the role of city wide learning networks?
  • What do key stakeholders think a city wide long term local sustainable community support programme looks like?

Expected Results – Outputs and Outcomes

At the end of the year there will be:

  • A set of research and tools to enable any local community organisation to develop its own action plan and area action plan.
  • There will be 10 local community organisations already 3-4 months into their 12 month action plans starting to deliver some of the recommended actions for their organisations and areas.
  • There will be 20 community representatives of staff and volunteers trained to be more confident in environmental issues and a way to move forward to help solve those issues on a local level.
  • There will be a learning network in place to help secure and coordinate support and funding from other environmental organisations seeking to support local green and healthy community action. The network will have a developed and partially funded support programme for 2022 reflected in the evidence and needs identified in the previous year.
  • Programme evaluation based on collated feedback from participants over the year.

This activity will have led to building the capacity of local community organisations to act on the local environment, this will result in more focused activity to help communities improve their local environment and health. This would translate into an improvement in local outcomes within 5 years of reduced air pollution, improved recycling, use of greenspaces, more walking and cycling, reduced energy bills, and improved healthy life expectancy.


January to March 2021

  • Interviewing community organisations across Birmingham, Greener Birmingham Coalition members, and other national stakeholders, to identify local needs and current good practice and support available.
  • Recruit up to 10 local community organisations. Test the findings from the interviews and research at a workshop before Easter.

April -June 2021

  • Help develop action plans for 10 local community organisations and their areas. Run an event to share results and practice.

July – December 2021

  • Help support delivery of action plans by running several events based on common actions within plans.

December – January 2022

  • An Evaluation of Year 1 and launch of Year 2 support programme.

Who is involved?

ecobirmingham, the local sustainability charity, is running the programme. The programme is funded by ecobirmingham and The National Lottery.
ecobirmingham aims to create a sustainable city. We exist to affect social change and transition towards low-carbon lifestyles. By inspiring and supporting communities and organisations to take positive action, we demonstrate that building sustainable communities brings benefits, opportunities, and wellbeing to everyone, as well as protecting the environment. Whether it is learning to ride a bike, gaining skills in food growing, raising awareness of local issues, or contributing to the debate in the city, we will help you along your sustainability journey. Through our projects, we give people the tools to take positive action and help others do the same. We look at sustainable living holistically and our core areas of work cover: Transport, Food, Education, Waste, Water, Arts Engagement and Energy.

The Greener Birmingham Coalition (GBC) is a city wide partnership of local environmental and sustainability organisations working together to influence the city council and support local community action. ecobirmingham is the current chair, supported by a management committee that includes Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, Birmingham Open Space Forum, Climate Action Network West Midlands, Birmingham Friends of the Earth, and Footsteps for a Low Carbon Future. GBC members will be helping to promote the community learning programme, and use their expertise in identifying good practice and support. The community learning programme also forms part of the development of the longer term GBC work plan to provide a 3-4 year city wide support plan which is being finalised with funders.

The National Lottery is providing funding to ecobirmingham as part of its COVID-19 emergency funding continue local delivery and to develop a wider environmental support programme for communities. This will provide the foundations for the wider city term support programme being finalised with ecobirmingham and Greener Birmingham.

The members of the learning network will be locally focused community organisations providing a range of services within a particular place in Birmingham, and interested in promoting more activity that leads to green and healthy changes for their communities. For example, community associations and centres, places of worship, and schools, working to improve cycling and walking and the use of green spaces in their area.

The role of the council – ecobirmingham and GBC members are part of the city council Road to Zero climate change task force and will ensure that this community learning programme supports the relevant parts of the future council climate action plan. The programme will seek to engage with a range of local ward councillors to understand the role they can play and support required as part of developing local action plans.

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