WEA Green Summer

This summer, as part of the WEA’s new Green Curriculum, we have been doing practical courses in the never ending sunshine.img-20180801-123927_orig

St. Mary’s Garden

At the Headland in Hartlepool, the most amazing ladies completely renovated an abandoned garden at St. Marys Church, and in the process learned about sustainability, made new friends, ‘had such a laugh’ and kick started a community hub. When I visited their garden opening day, there was a steady stream of local residents coming to see what they had done, enjoying the company, and the local beach clean volunteers even popped in for improptu tea and scones!

They told me how being involved in the gardening renovation course had made them more environmentally aware, with one now taking up composting at home, as she had learnt how easy it was, another became more aware of how much food she wasted on a weekly basis and so changed the way she shopped. The garden itself they made with donated and recycled goods, they didn’t throw anything in landfill and no peat compost was used. (A personal bugbear of mine!)img-20180808-122008

They praised the tutor Catherine Howell, saying her enthusiasm had inspired them and helped turn awareness about the environment into practice.

Park Time

Meanwhile in North Shields, artist Helen Smith was leading weekly sessions in Northumberland Park, helping students develop their drawing and painting skills at the same time as enjoying the peace and calm that comes with spending time in green 2 students no. 1spaces. Research has shown that contact with nature and green space has a postive effect on our mental health.

The first part of each session was a guided walk by the park keeper, through a different part of the park each time, with explanations about the plants and wildlife and park heritage.

Students really enjoyed the sessions, and feedback included how taking part gave them the possibility to draw in the park, something that even though some were skilled painters, they wouldn’t have done on their own, either due to confidence, feeling secure or not being able to carry to the park the drawing boards and paints needed.

The tutor reported back that many parents stopped to talk to her in the park and would love to take part as well. So next year we plan to run a forest school creche in the park so parents can paint while their children play and learn about nature.

2 students no 2

student by lake

And finally, in Middlesbrough, at the TS3 Community Church local residents learnt about Bees and Beekeeping, ‘No Dig’ Gardening and Plants That Heal, again with tutor Catherine Howell. Students from this group came to the launch of St. Mary’s Garden, so starting to form a network of people who care about the environment and their community – watch this space for what comes next!


Free Energy Audits for Community Buildings in Sunderland

Free Energy Audits for Community Buildings in Sunderland

The WEA North East Green Branch, in partnership with Sustainable Sunderland, have raised funds from the CoRE fund for three energy audits of community buildings in the City of Sunderland.


What is an energy audit?

The audits are worth £450 each and are carried out by skilled building and heating engineers from Green Community Buildings. The engineer will do a detailed walk round of your community building, in the company of a member of the committee. This will take up to 2 hours. The engineer will look at all the ways the building loses heat energy, how it can be made warmer and cost less to run, as well as looking at lights and appliances. They will then look at whether any renewable technologies could be used in the building to save money in the long run. A detailed report is then produced which can help in funding applications for future building improvements.


Can my community building apply for a free audit?

If your community building committee can answer yes to the following statements then you can apply.

  • At least one committee member must be able to attend the walk round with the engineer, to provide information to them as needed and learn from them.
  • Previous energy bills must be made available to the engineer.
  • The building must be located in the City of Sunderland.
  • The community building committee agrees to share information they have learned with other community buildings.
  • The committee agree to talk to Green Community Buildings a year after the audit.

We expect there will be more applications than audits. To decide who gets an audit we will be looking for 1) The impact saving money and making your building warmer will have on current users, future users and the long term viability of your hall 2) Have you already started trying to save energy and make your hall warmer? (these can be small steps!)

To apply click the link to survey monkey and fill in the questionnaire.

Any queries contact

You do not have to complete the on line questionnaire all at once but can edit it as often as you need. (You will need to open it from the same computer for it to recognise you.)

Deadline for applications 4.30pm Tues. 29th November . Applicants will hear from us in January. Audits will be done by the end of Feb 2017.

The core legacy fund is supported by income received by Berwick Community Trust from the wind turbine north of Berwick.


Fruit on the Tyne Conference 2016

green-treeFruit on the Tyne Conference 2016

Saturday 5th November @ Nunsmoor Centre NE4 5AH

The WEA Green Branch presents our 2nd Fruit on the Tyne conference, recognising the growing interest and benefits of community projects in the North East.
The day will provide:
9:30 – 10am Registration and Refreshments
10am – 12:30pm Presentations from local projects
12:30 – 1:30pm Free lunch and Federation of City Farms and Community
Gardens short members meeting
1:30 – 3pm Participatory workshops on topics to inform and inspire
3 – 3:30pm Meet back at Nunsmoor Centre for feedback from workshops

To register for the event and keep updated on the programme for the day
please follow this link:
We look forward to sharing an interesting and inspiring day!
Thank you to our contributors: The National Lottery, Greening Wingrove, and Federation of City Farms Community Gardens.

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