Making a big impact in climate education

Climate Ed Volunteer leading a workshop

Ben Cuddon, Co-founder of Climate Ed explains why his charity would be nothing without its community volunteers.

Climate Ed is a volunteer-led climate education charity. In a nutshell, we recruit volunteers and send them to local primary schools in London to deliver education around carbon literacy and climate change. The teaching of climate change in schools is currently limited and many teachers are uncertain about how to cover the issue.

So far, we have delivered our in-depth carbon literacy programme to over 4000 students and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In stats from our pilot conducted in autumn 2021, 81% of students gave the workshops 4 or 5 (out of 5) for improving their knowledge of climate change. 69% gave the programme 4 or 5 for inspiring them to get involved in climate action. 

On top of this, follow-up research conducted four months after the workshops showed that they had had an impact in changing people’s habits. 54% of students reported making fewer car journeys. (Based on a sample of 107 students across five classes in three different schools).

How it all started

When we started out, we didn’t visualise ourselves as a volunteer-led charity. We were still working out what we wanted to do. It was only when we started recruiting volunteers and saw that they were doing such a great job, that we ended up building a volunteer programme around them. We have been using Reach for the past 3 years. Our very first role was for a workshop facilitator but then, as the need came up, we recruited volunteers for other areas. Our volunteers are core in delivering our services but they also do everything else. They are involved in all aspects of our charity including fundraising, research, website design, recruiting other volunteers, spreading awareness and even being our trustees. Honestly, they are all so passionate, knowledgeable and have brought a huge amount to the charity.

Volunteers making an impact

Volunteers are critical to us as an organisation. As a small charity, we are spread very thin and in areas where we don’t necessarily have any experience. We need them and they have a massive impact on our work. Their enthusiasm, their level of expertise and their willingness to donate their skills have been impressive. We had three web designers who did an incredible amount of work on our website, giving it a complete overhaul and making it look good. Another volunteer secured us critical funding and our trustees gave us the shape, direction, oversight and governance that we were lacking as a charity. 

If you’re thinking about getting a volunteer, just do it. We started with one volunteer and now have a large community of volunteers supporting the charity, as well as building connections and sharing ideas with other people in the environmental / climate field. We would be nothing without our volunteers.