30th Oct 2017

Richard Shears discusses the impact of the Local Environmental Action Fund eleven years on, and unveils plans for its future including how you can get involved by building a dedicated endowment for the environment.

It was a conversation around the dinner table between my dad and Ian Gregg that lead to the foundation of the Local Environmental Action Fund (LEAF). They believed there wasn’t enough being done to tackle environmental issues and with support from the Community Foundation and the tireless efforts of our fund manager Katie, LEAF has helped a huge amount of people with a wide variety of issues.

The grants made through LEAF help people in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland to deliver projects that tackle environmental issues that have a positive impact on the quality of life of individuals and communities. To date LEAF has awarded nearly £1.8 million in grants to over 230 projects, that’s pretty good going!

Through involvement with LEAF, the Shears Foundation is working together with other donors to tackle environmental issues collectively to give local communities the chance to act, to take control and make a difference by improving their local environment which also brings about a range of social and economic benefits.

There is a wealth of research to show that getting out into green and blue spaces supports our mental health and provides us with areas to come together as a community.

The ecosystems around us provide us with air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat.

We are intrinsically linked to our environment. Yet, increasingly we are disconnected from it. We often think that it’s someone else’s job to care for the trees, the air, the ground, and the bees. It can feel that the parks and fields we walk in and the verges we walk and drive past are not our responsibility.

Yet, the environment we live in faces a range of challenges that impacts everyone. We read and hear about how air pollution is a significant issue and how plastics are building up in the ground, the sea and in our food and water. We are losing vital pollinator species and our climate is changing weather systems and is becoming a major factor in migration of populations across the world, as well as increasing extreme weather events. Most concerning is that these issues disproportionately affect certain people in our communities – those who are on low incomes, the young, the elderly, those with poor health.

LEAF was set up to support and inspire local communities to tackle issues for themselves. From local food growing and litter picks, to urban flood management, composting toilets and community orchards in local parks and schools. And it’s been a huge success!

To continue its legacy and to keep moving forward, LEAF will become a a dedicated environmental endowment fund at the Community Foundation and continue to inspire future generations to improve their own communities.

We have an amazing opportunity to create a new environmental endowment fund. Greggs Foundation has offered £50,000 if we match it and find a further £100,000. We’re almost at the target, with contributions from existing LEAF partners, and two very generous donations from individuals which we are very grateful for, we are close to being able to ‘unlock’ the offer from Greggs Foundation.

If we can secure a further £20,000, we will have created a fund of at least £200,000, and reconnect people with the environment for generations to come.

To make a donation to the Local Environmental Action click here.

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