THE SO TOOLKIT

08. IDENTIFY KEY STAKEHOLDERS & BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE

 

Who is your audience? For us it was our residents (about 5000 people), our businesses (about 300 – mainly small independent shops or businesses, many people working from home, plus a few larger businesses – e.g. Portals Paper, Laverstoke Park Farm, Bombay Sapphire (technically those last 2 in the neighbouring small parish with whom we work closely), and some industrial units. In addition, there are other larger organisations, such as Southern Cooperative, a Domino’s Pizza, a Southern Water station etc.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL(S)

 

Also, in the community – and of huge importance - was our Overton Primary School. The school forms a hub of learning, not just for young children, but also involves their parents, grandparents or carers, as well as the teachers themselves. Things learned here will hopefully permeate throughout their whole lives, helping to educate an entire new generation.

OTHER IMPORTANT COMMUNITY PARTNERS

 

We have two churches in the village and associated volunteers, as well as many clubs and societies. We have the Overton Business Association, the Overton Recreation Centre, the local clubs (Scouts, Guides, Brownies, Cubs, Explorers, Cadets etc) as well as other societies such as the Overton Biodiversity Association, local amateur dramatics, photography, U3A – there are many opportunities to spread the word. Village Agents can also be very useful contacts, as well as local landowners and farmers. Other key contacts are your Borough Councillors and County Councillors, as well as your MP.

LEARNING POINT:

GET YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL AND CHURCHES INVOLVED SCHOOLS

  • Key pillar of your strategy, as they are places of learning (about climate change) 

  • They involve not just the new generation but parents, grandparents and carers.

  • They are also extremely busy places with little time, so it’s worth taking time to build relationships with the head or assistant Head Teacher, Assistant Head, or the Board of Governors, to communicate the benefits to them of taking part in this initiative.  

  • We found that SAS plastic free helps them with an Ofsted objective. There are free SAS plastic free schools’ resources here.

  • We also found that we could help each other: our school needed help with overgrown trees (over 10 acres of grounds is expensive to look after) – not just lack of budget, but also lack of expertise in knowing what needed to be done. Luckily our tree warden was able to find the original planner and visit the school to give them a report on how to tackle this. 

  • They might be interested in being a recycle point: We helped them set up a TerraCycle crisp recycling point at school, with a collection rota, so that they could receive some funds from this.

  • Then, communication about solar panels, 

  • Every May they can run a walk to school campaigns. If you join forces, you can help each other with joint communications and a targeted campaign. Resources can be found here. 

  • They can also run no engine idling campaigns - great free resources can be found here.

  • We suggest having one or 2 coordinated school liaison people, to avoid multiple volunteers bombarding them with uncoordinated emails or phone calls.
     

CHURCHES

  • Also a key pillar as they may work with your local school, and also often have not only a great team of lovely people, but also have various charity and toddler groups, newsletters/magazines, and other communication methods (e.g. sermons, other groups, or groups who use the church rooms) to help spread the message

  • Many churches are doing the Arocha Eco Church Programme, so you may find you have common objectives

  • Our church set up a Bead plastics recycling point with our recycling team. 

  • We also work together on things like Green Week, and they form a key part of our steering committee.

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Local businesses are also extremely important. They are a key part of your community, and will contribute to the overall carbon footprint of the parish in different ways.  Larger businesses are likely to be very aware of this, but smaller SME’s not necessarily so. We have a vibrant high street with many small businesses, and also many businesses people run from home. The challenge of each can have some similarities, but also very individual problems, requiring individual solutions. Due to COVID we have not made as much headway as we would like with our businesses, as they had other priorities. 

LEARNING POINT:

LOCAL BUSINESS LEARNING

  • No time: Most small businesses (e.g. high street shops) are very busy, work long hours, and have lots of things they need to do, and it’s hard to find a good time to have a sustainability discussion

  • Little money: it’s a difficult time for the high street. They are unlikely to be interested in anything unless it saves them money.

  • This is exacerbated by COVID and the current lockdown.

  • Sustainability not on the agenda: Taking part in or even talking about sustainability initiatives is very low down on their agenda, or not on it at all. 

  • Posters in windows: It was difficult to persuade them to even put up a poster – it can make window displays look tatty or it can be a policy not to advertise.

  • Do not be deterred! Some really embraced it though, and also liked our “pledge poster”, where they could advertise to customers what they were doing (e.g. “your keep cup is welcome here”, “all our packaging is recyclable”).

  • Be patient and always polite – some shopkeepers can get frustrated.

  • It takes time to build up relationships and knowledge. We tried a 1-page letter given out the week before, and an email to those in the business association, which helped a little. 

  • Do something for them: e.g. take a picture of them with the poster, post it on social media, like all their posts, say thank you. This has some traction, and a few businesses are really supportive, but was a little disappointing overall. We hope that as we progress, we can find better ways of engaging with all the businesses. It’s a fine line between raising your profile and becoming an irritation.

  • Shop local: We make sure we promote a “shop local” message in all relevant communications

  • Be fair:  promote businesses only where you can do so in a fair manner (e.g. if you have just 2 Christmas tree suppliers in the village, you can promote both of them as that is fair, and gives people useful information about local purchasing).  

  • Not many locals shop locally – they tend to use large supermarkets. According to their research, only about 6% of people shop locally (although this has increased to about 20% with COVID, but this may be temporary). The focus for many people is driving a 19-mile round trip to a large supermarket and getting everything in one place, sadly.

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WORKING CLOSELY WITH OTHER PARISH, TOWN, BOROUGH AND COUNTY COUNCILS

 

We realised that we would need to work closely with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, work with some other local parishes (as there are opportunities to learn from each other, share resources, and not have to reinvent the wheel), Hampshire County Council, other local climate change or environmental groups.

For all aspects of Hampshire County Council’s Climate Change strategy, please see here, in particular the information under “What can I do” which has links to the Green Campaign (which Parish councils can use within their communities) and three other community projects that HCC are delivering under “What are we doing”, community projects, working in partnerships with Hampshire residents and community groups to reduce residential carbon emissions and adapt to climate change. They have an excellent report here, which has a table on page 9 showing the ease of behavioural change of various initiatives, the level of influence it has, and the opportunity size.

We have built a strong relationship with Lucy Martins and Sam Taylor, the Climate Change Officers, and started attending their Parish Council community meetings of local parish council representatives to share learning. It has become clear through these meetings that we are all in the same boat, some people have progressed more in certain areas, and people are generous with both their time and energy in helping each other move forward together. This has provided a huge sense of support. It has also made us realise that there are many people out there with an appetite to make changes, and this sense of community on a mission is heartening.  Our mission is to build this up to include more parishes out of the 38 in the Borough. 

Sam Taylor: sam.taylor@basingstoke.gov.uk

Lucy Martins: lucy.martins@basingtoke.gov.uk

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