Community collaboration in the face of climate change at Blackburn with Darwen People’s Jury launch event
Tension was in the air at Blackburn last week with the Darwen People’s Jury at the climate crisis launch event, when nearly 100 local residents, stakeholders and organizations came together to discuss how the borough should respond to reduce its environmental impact.
Presenting themselves to a sold-out Windsor Suite at King George’s Hall, the People’s Jury, a panel of 26 local residents, shared their personal experiences of the jury process and what they hope to gain from their involvement.
Guests at King George’s Hall were clearly both intrigued and moved by the jury’s compelling argument, their passion for the cause sending a wave of inspiration around the room as participants were invited to share their thoughts and participate in breakout groups contribute to future planning – leading to valuable connections between residents and local service providers.
Attendees included representatives from a variety of sectors from across the county including United Utilities, Blackburn College, National Festival of Making, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Together Housing and East Lancs Chamber of Commerce – to name but a few.
Safeera, a jury member who has lived and worked in Blackburn all his life, said of the experience: “In the past I’ve always viewed climate change as a lot of doom and gloom and quite overwhelming… But what I’ve found through this process is, you know, even just one person plants a tree or one person makes a difference at the percentage who they use a car with, it can make a big difference when it all adds up.”
Cllr Phil Riley, Head of Blackburn at Darwen Borough Council, gave a small introduction to the evening and contributed to proactive conversations throughout the evening. He said:
“The commitment of every single jury member is really amazing. They went above and beyond what was asked of them, demonstrated an unwavering passion for the task at hand, and clearly developed a vested interest in the future outcomes of their recommendations.
“It’s incredibly gratifying to see this and feel the obvious community spirit that has developed alongside the work.
“I am confident that the atmosphere at the launch event is a clear indication of the positive partnership work ahead as connections are made between the third sector, businesses, residents and communities alike. It’s exactly the kind of collaborative, district-wide approach needed to address a problem like this.
“On behalf of the council, I would like to thank the judges for their contributions to our district and look forward to their continued commitment to building a greener future for Blackburn with Darwen.”
On behalf of Blackburn at Darwen Borough Council and supported by Shared Future CIC, the People’s Jury was selected in September 2022 and brought together 26 residents who could be considered the ‘mini-population’ of Blackburn with Darwen – reflecting local demographics in relation to that Reflects age, gender, ethnicity, station area, and attitudes toward climate change.
Jury members then met for 30 hours between September and December and heard from local experts, scientists, researchers and more, all of whom gave them a different perspective on climate change. The ultimate goal of these sessions was to develop a set of recommendations that would address the question:
What do we need to do in our homes, in our businesses, and in our communities to respond?
the climate crisis?
After absorbing a wealth of knowledge about climate change and three key themes chosen by the jury themselves – communications and education, transport and housing – they worked with Darwen to translate that information into fifteen thoughtful recommendations for climate action in Blackburn.