Parkside Student Social Group

“It is, kind of, an odd job, because the people in power aren’t doing enough to help our planet. So it’s kind of down to us. I mean, it shouldn’t be down to us, but it’s like, who else is going to?”

The Social Action Group at Parkside Community College started with a small group of students.

They started campaigning about toilets, fundraising for Ukraine, and campaigning on rights issues. But soon the group took a big focus on climate action. They feel with climate change, the longer we leave it, the more urgent the issue becomes. There are now about 30 people involved, and some of them have even written letters to – and received sage guidance and support in response(!) – David Attenborough.

The group is campaigning to reduce Parkside’s carbon footprint. For example, they work to reduce waste and the negative impact of food in the canteen, reduce electricity consumption, recycle papers and pens, and campaign for solar panels, better insulation, and alternative sources of heating for the school. The students also have organised a conference for 13 schools to discuss core issues with representatives from charities, direct action groups and political parties, and have led workshops for younger children to help them understand how they can set up their own societies. 

The students find that when you grow up around nature, you’re much more likely to care about it because you know the benefits – and so if your local park is being shut down, you’re much more likely to oppose it. The students believe most people don’t really pay attention to climate change, and so things like the conference help to keep climate conversations and action going. We need to all think about how to make our carbon footprints smaller, and how to do more to help the climate. People might not like what you’re doing at first, but stick to your belief that it’s the right thing to do, and then try to convince people to come round to your own point of view. Don’t apologise for the hassle, explain why you are acting to change things, and tell other students that it’s the right thing to do. Most of the time, people will understand with time why you’re doing it. They might even thank you later. The thing is, most people don’t think what they are doing makes a difference, but when you look at the global scale, there’s potentially 8 billion people doing 8 billion little things and so those small things could make a massive difference. So it’s time to stand up for yourself, and stand up for the planet.