Community collaboration in the face of climate change at Blackburn with Darwen People’s Jury launch event

Published Tuesday 24 January 2023 at 18:04

There was electricity in the air at the Blackburn with Darwen People’s Jury on the Climate Change Crisis launch event last night, with almost 100 local residents, stakeholders and organisations connecting to discuss how the borough should respond to reduce its environmental impact.

The People’s Jury, a panel of 26 local residents, presented to a packed out Windsor Suite in King George’s Hall, sharing their personal experiences of the jury process and what they hope to be achieved from their dedication.

Guests at King George’s Hall were clearly both captivated and moved by the compelling case made by the Jury, with their passion to the cause sparking a wave of inspiration throughout the room as attendees were invited to share their thoughts and contribute to future planning in breakout groups – resulting in valuable links made between residents and local service providers.

Those in attendance included representatives from a wide range of sectors across the borough, bringing together the likes of United Utilities, Blackburn College, National Festival of Making, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Together Housing and East Lancs Chamber of Commerce – to name just a few.

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A short film featuring interviews with some of the Jury members was played at the launch event, explaining the process and the impact and it’s had on them personally. You can watch it here:

Safeera, a Jury member who has lived and worked in Blackburn all her life, said of the experience: “In the past I used to always think of climate change as a lot of doom and gloom and quite overwhelming… But what I found through this process is that, you know, even just one person planting a tree, or one person making a difference to the percentage of times that they use a car, when it all adds up, it can make a big difference.”

Whilst Andrew, another Jury member who is proudly born and bred Blackburn, commented on the Jury process allowing “the opportunity for [him] to engage and give something back to the community.”

Cllr Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, gave a small introduction to the evening and contributed to proactive conversations throughout the night. He said:

 “The level of commitment shown by each and every member of the Jury is truly astounding. They have gone above and beyond what was asked of them, showing an unwavering passion to the task at hand and clearly developing a vested interested in the future outcomes of their recommendations.

“It is incredibly gratifying to see this and to sense the obvious community spirit that has evolved alongside the work.

“I am hopeful that the atmosphere at the launch event is a clear indication of the positive partnership work that is to come, seeing connections being made between third-sector, business, residents and council alike. This is exactly the kind of collaborative, borough-wide approach that is needed to tackle such an issue.

“On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank the Jury for their contributions to our borough and I look forward to their continuing involvement in building a greener future for Blackburn with Darwen.”

Commissioned by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and facilitated by Shared Future CIC, the People’s Jury was selected in September 2022, bringing together 26 residents who could be seen as a ‘mini-population’ of Blackburn with Darwen – mirroring local demographics in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, ward area and attitude towards climate change.

Jury members then met for 30 hours between September and December, hearing from local experts, scientists, researchers and more, all giving them a different perspective on climate change. The ultimate aim of these sessions was to produce a set of recommendations that would address the question:

What do we need to do in our homes, in business and our local area to respond to
the climate change crisis?

After absorbing a mass of knowledge around climate change and three key themes that the Jury themselves selected – communications and education, transport and housing – they collaboratively translated this information into fifteen considered recommendations for climate action in Blackburn with Darwen.

You can read their recommendations, ranked in order of priority, in the document attached to this press release.

Katie, a Jury member who has lived in Darwen for 12 years, believes: “The recommendation of setting up small groups at a ward level and giving people individual responsibility and coming together as a community to affect change,
I think that could probably be the most powerful and lasting thing that could come from this jury.”

The Jury’s recommendations will be discussed by local councillors at the next Council Forum on Thursday 26th January. Residents will be kept updated on progression via The Shuttle, Council website and social media.

If anyone would like to be involved with future climate change work or has a suggestion, please contact:

Find out more information about the Jury and each of their sessions by visiting the ‘People’s Jury’ section on The Shuttle.

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