Here are the answers of Manchester Friends of the Earth to the 11 questions that MCFly is asking lots of different environmentally-oriented groups. So far Kindling Trust, Carbon Coop, Global Justice Now and Green Party have answered.
1. What is the purpose of your group? (three or four sentences)
Manchester Friends of the Earth, is one of many local FoE groups worldwide. We campaign on local, national and international issues. We are fuelled by volunteer energy and funded by membership subscriptions and donations.
See http://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/ for more details of events and campaigns
2. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved have?
When people attend a campaign meeting for the first time we ask them what skills and knowledge they have. Each campaign asks people involved what skills / knowledge could help.
3. How do you find out what skills and knowledge the people who get involved want to develop?
By asking people what skills / knowledge would help them. Skills sessions can be provided by national FoE staff and we organise our own training sessions to learn and share skills and knowledge from within the group or from other people/organisations.
Nationally, Friends of the Earth run development / training courses for climate campaigners and community organisers. You do not have to be part of a FoE group to access these training courses.
4. If people get involved in your group, what sorts of things will they end up doing? (stuffing envelopes, selling newspapers, knocking on doors, getting arrested etc etc)
Manchester Friends of the Earth run a number of different campaigns on climate change, renewable energy, sustainable transport / cycling, food, bees/nature. People can get involved in many different ways such as: help run information stalls at local events, lobbying (writing / talking to) local councillors, MPs, doing interviews with local radio/TV, responding to consultations, writing press releases, running training events.
You can do as much or as little as you want and you don’t have to come to meetings although it is always nice to see you!
Successes and “opportunities for improvement”* in 2015.
5. What have been your group’s main Manchester-based successes in the past year? (i.e. nothing that took place outside the ring road counts)
Manchester FoE is involved with campaigns across the whole of Greater Manchester and beyond, as in many cases this is where the focus has to be to achieve success locally.
We helped support the Friends of the Earth and other groups in their success to get Lancashire County Council to vote against the application to frack in Lancashire.
We also supported the campaigns in Trafford to successfully convince Trafford Council to vote against Fracking (Unfortunately, this did not apply to coal-bed methane!) . This work will help strengthen our case should the issue of decision making over fracking directly come to Manchester, although, of course, stopping the fracking industry extracting further fossil fuels anywhere will help reduce the impact of climate change of which we will all be beneficiaries.
Fossil-Free GM: Divestment campaign
We worked with people and organisations across GM on the launch of the Fossil-Free GM campaign that wants GM Pension Fund (GMPF), managed by Tameside Council, to switch its £1.3 billion of investments in fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives. A small step was that GMPF have changed their investment policy so that can decide to divest, the big step is to get them to do so!
Bees / Nature
The group was involved in creating several ‘Bee Worlds‘ in Manchester and held a successful Bee Summit bringing together local authorities, social housing organisations and businesses to do more to improve biodiversity and prevent the decline of bees and other pollinators. The group also spent a week over summer taking part in the Urban gardening event – Dig the City and spoke to hundreds of adults and children about caring for bees.
Seven local people are taking part in the Friends of the Earth climate organisers training course. This is great for the group as they are developing skills and knowledge that the will be able to share with other people.
6. What were the things you hoped to achieve but didn’t.
The coming year
7. What do you hope to achieve in 2016? What are your success metrics for December 31st 2016.
Help keep Greater Manchester (and the UK) Frack-Free in 2016 and beyond.
Work with people and organisations across Greater Manchester to encourage the GM Pension Fund to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable alternatives.
To help develop a long term plan (with allocated funding) for a cycling network in Greater Manchester.
We are also trying some different ways of meeting up this year with Saturday cafe meet -ups, more training sessions and more socializing!
8. What (up to 3) things would you like do see done in Manchester to make the city less crap on climate action
a) by the City Council
b) by the “climate movement”
9. What is the stupidest thing the “climate movement” could do this year?
10. How can people get involved?
People can find out more by coming along to a meeting and talking to us (we meet regularly at the Green Fish Resource Centre (Oldham Street), or checking out the website, Facebook pages, Twitter or email. See below.
Twitter: @mcrfoe @gmloveyourbike @fossilfreegm
11. Anything else you’d like to say.
Thanks and look forward to seeing you.