Imagine a world where everyone could truthfully say they lived in a vibrant, trusting local community and global society — where our communities were places where residents felt engaged, supported, appreciated and valued; where the local economy was thriving, and participants feel proud to be part of their community and take an active role in helping to support this.
UK charity Business in the Community (BITC) and its HRH initiative, Start, are imagining such a world as part of their #bethestart May campaign.
Running the entire month of May and engaging 31 brands across each of the 31 days, the campaign aims to engage consumers on all aspects of sustainability from environmental to social. This week, May 13-19, the theme is Be the Start of More Vibrant Communities.
Many of the brands participating this week are charities or social enterprises, and some are supported by big businesses, such as B&Q’s Streetclub or IBM’s Chale initiative. But what all of the organisations have in common is their desire to engage the citizens of their community, ultimately asking them to participate in and create the world they want to live in.
On May 13th, wanting to see fewer books going to waste, Healthy Planet is encouraging citizens to donate books they do not need, organise a book swap at their school, office or on their street, or to share books amongst friends. Sharing items amongst your local community increases trust.
On May 14thIBM will be promoting their Chale Community Project, one of only ten areas in the UK to benefit from funding to become a low-carbon community. The objective of the project was to save energy and water in homes, resulting in reduced fuel costs. This was made possible thanks to a home monitoring system measuring electricity generated by solar panels, enabling residents to easily track their usage throughout the day. IBM is encouraging those living outside of their model city to look to their own village or street for how to better control energy and water usage.
Led by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), Love Your Local Market is a national campaign, taking place the last half of May, that will see 500 markets around the country celebrating the rich UK culture of going to the market and putting markets at the heart of vibrant communities. Shopping at local markets can be a great way to support local economies.
On May 16th, B&Q will feature its Streetclub initiative, an online platform encouraging neighbours to talk, share, lend and save with one another. Contrary to the DIY retailer, which sells power tools, the Streetclub initiative encourages residents to share these (and other goods) with each other, rather than buying one of their own. Since the average drill is used for only 12 minutes in its lifetime, this is a good economical alternative.
Friday May 17th is BITC’s annual Give & Gain Day, working with businesses to encourage their employees to volunteer and give something back to the community in which they operate. It has become the UK’s biggest day in volunteering, last year seeing 19,000 volunteers from nearly 400 companies and in the last four years over 60,000 people have taken part from 31 countries. Businesses offer a range of volunteering opportunities for staff from school sports days to employability workshops for the long-term unemployed. Businesses can take part by registering here.
The weekend sees retailer Asda promoting their Community Life programme on May 18th and the green social network, Project Dirt, encouraging as many people as possible to start their own local-food growing group on May 19th. Food growing is a great way to bring communities together and getting people outside to enjoy a healthier lifestyle, as well as cutting carbon miles.