At Christmas and Beyond: A Fair and Equal Society
Throughout November, we talked extensively about our sustainability agenda in light of the COP26 talks on which the whole world had turned its attention. But, as we know, climate change is not a seasonal issue. The ecological problems the world now faces amount to a climate emergency which affects us every day.
Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities. From recycling buildings to being the first UK property company to pledge Net Zero Carbon by 2030, we think a sustainable future is important for the cities in which we live and do business to thrive. That’s why, along with cultural vibrancy and a fair and equal society, it’s one of the three pillars on which we base our driving purpose: Creating Thriving Cities.
We’ve already talked this month about some of the aspects of these pillars that are particularly relevant at this time of year, in our blogs on cultural activity and sustainability at Christmas. Today, we’re looking at the third pillar - a fair and equal society - through an initiative that also has sustainability at its heart, and an organisation which shares our purpose and values.
City of Trees
City of Trees is a project which was set up in 2015 through collaboration between Red Rose Forest and The Oglesby Charitable Trust. The aim of the project is to plant one tree for every person in Greater Manchester within a generation, as part of the effort to make the region carbon neutral by 2038.
As their website states, “trees are a critical tool in addressing our state of climate emergency”, and “can be used to adapt our urban areas and make them more resilient to a range of environmental challenges including air quality, flood risk and extreme heat”.
Based in Salford, their tree-planting work is an opportunity for everyone in the local community to come together, regardless of background, to reconnect with our green spaces and appreciate the value of nature. In doing so, not only is useful insight passed on for the benefit of our planet, but friendships are forged and so new links between communities are established.
Our Bruntwood Cares volunteering days have seen colleagues from across the business give their time to a number of City of Trees’ planting sessions, and the days are always fun, educational and rewarding. So if you’re looking for some volunteering work this Christmas or would like to do something different with friends or family, why not get involved yourself? There’s only one more day left for tree planting before the festive break (16th December) but, as we all know, volunteering isn’t just for Christmas - and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in January too. All sessions are from 10am to 3pm and dates are as follows:
18th Jan - Location to be confirmed (woodland management; tree thinning and crown lifting)
20th Jan - Hurst Wood (crown lifting of woodland stands and woodland management)
25th Jan - Priory Gardens (woodland management; tree thinning and crown lifting)
27th Jan - Waterdale (coppicing day: learning traditional woodland and tree management techniques)
If any of these activities grabs you, or if you’d like to hear more about different opportunities, you can get in touch with City of Trees through Beth Kelsall - firstname.lastname@example.org / 0161 872 1660.
So far, City of Trees, with the help of volunteers, have managed to plant 537, 173 trees and connect 12, 956 people to nature. Even if we add only one to each of those figures, it will be a step in the right direction, so your support would be invaluable. And remember, anyone can volunteer!
The Oglesby Charitable Trust
Having been founded by the late Michael Oglesby, also the founder of Bruntwood, and his wife Jean, The Oglesby Charitable Trust reflects Bruntwood’s grounding principles in its work and objectives. In contributing to the establishment of City of Trees, the OCT set out to help create an environment in which all communities have good access to green space; healthy, sustainable food; and opportunities to get involved.
Whether it be physical spaces, education, health or simply opportunities for participation, this focus on opening up all aspects of our cities to every kind of community remains a deep-rooted priority of the OCT’s work. The Trust has an important relationship with Bruntwood, as the core values which act as its lifeblood are also the values which drive our entire purpose as a business.
The OCT recently shared some reflections on the Spotlight Fund, which they launched in 2019 in an effort to increase funding support to organisations in the North West working with refugees and people seeking asylum. Collective empathy for those seeking refuge was reignited recently as Little Amal journeyed across Europe and the UK, visiting a number of our cities along the way. It’s important though to use that empathy as a driver for learning, and for discovering new ways to respond meaningfully to a worldwide problem.
As global numbers of displaced people continue to increase, and with International Migrants Day approaching on 18th December, this message feels timely. It feels timely, too, as it sits at the heart of Christmas itself. For those of us fortunate enough to have taken part in a Nativity production when at school, or had the pleasure of seeing our children do the same, it is easy to forget that the Christmas story is, in essence, a refugee story. Families displaced, uneasy and unsure, lacking shelter or a place of safety.
One thing that’s strikingly clear is that a fair and equal society is perennially important and, if it matters to us over Christmas, it should matter all year round. That’s why it’s such an important aspect of what drives our work, and why it informs our relationship with the OCT and with all of our charity partners. We encourage you to head to the OCT's website to hear more about the organisations involved in Spotlight, and the important work done as a result.