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A Review of Gateshead Great Big Green Week

A Review of Gateshead Great Big Green Week

Well, what a week that was! Of course, with a title like Great Big Green Week, it was always going to be full on. Billed as a national week of 4500+ events celebrating action on climate change from 18-26 September 2021, Great Big Green Week encouraged communities to come together in 'the fight that unites us' to take part in 'green' events.

Here in Gateshead, Green Heart Collective took up the challenge and organised and participated in a series of events. Here's a look back over the last week!

We started early! Responding to climate emergency is at the heart of all that we do all year round! We offered our workshop space to a group of craftivists working on Stitches for Survival - mass craftivism to put the earth centre stage at COP26 (if you're unsure what COP26 is, then have a read of our blog WHAT IS COP26 AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS?). The knitted and stitched 100cm x 60cm panels that we have worked on will be joined with panels from all over the UK in Glasgow to create 1.5 miles of climate messages. A BBC crew came along to take photos and videos and to interview Andy Redfern, co-founder of Green Heart Collective for the regional Sunday Politics Programme. 

During that session, we also painted placards for the COP26 March taking place in Newcastle on Saturday 18 September. At the March, we joined others with a passion for the planet and its people in listening to speeches by local Labour MP Chi Onwurah and Mayor of North of the Tyne Jamie Driscoll and others (and our very own Andy Redfern!) to be fired up about speaking up for real action on the climate emergency.

On Sunday 19 September, Green Heart Collective invited Christians from across Gateshead to meet together in the beautiful setting of St Edmund's Chapel, High Street, Gateshead to explore the Christian response to climate emergency. Of course, there is no one single response - I spoke briefly about how my faith informs my climate activism, and then retired Methodist Minister Paul Golightly and local resident Dr Catharine Howe shared their different responses to climate emergency. Following a discussion, Lya Vollering from the eco community at Minsteracres led us in a powerful reflection around the simple wooden cross at the centre of our circle.

 In a previous life, I used to write school assemblies for SPCK and Optimus Education. During Gateshead Great Big Green Week, I revived that skill(!) and delivered a presentation about textile waste to Year 5 and 6 students at Brighton Avenue Primary School in Bensham. The pupils then went back to their own classrooms to discuss these two questions:

  • why do we love buying new clothes?
  • how can we encourage others to buy more secondhand clothes?

This lively discussion resulted in some fabulous artwork which we now have displayed on the walls at Green Heart Collective.

"Thank you once again for yesterday afternoon; the children were buzzing about it today! Have a wonderful weekend; I can't wait to work with you & the children again."                                                         Jacqui Kevan, Deputy Headteacher

That evening, Green Heart Collective hosted a charity clothes swap raising vital funds for Care4Calais. We heard from local representative Elizabeth Mann Josephs about the work they do among asylum seekers and refugees in the region and we look forward to working more closely with Care4Calais in the future. The clothes swap resulted in everyone leaving with an armful of items that were new to them and there was a great buzz about the evening. We'll definitely be doing more clothes swaps in the future.

Find Your Words was to be the final event in our Gateshead Great Big Green Week. Unfortunately, this creative writing event in response to climate emergency had to be cancelled. Yamit Salazar from Eliot Smith Dance was due to perform a short solo based on the inspiration for choreographer Eliot Smith's new work LIFE. Instead, Eliot Smith released a short video clip of the work in progress that you can see here.


Many thanks to everyone who participated in Gateshead Great Big Green Week. We really do appreciate your hard work and commitment. Of course, the work is not finished. One week alone will not solve everything. We hope that this Green Week has encouraged you to reflect more on your response to the climate emergency before us. As a collective, we will continue to strive to make a difference and we are sure that you will too.

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