Agenda item

Main Meeting Theme - Engagement and Communications

A short presentation will be given by Celia Glynn-Williams and Katie Hargraves-Smith


3.1.        The Head of Communications and Marketing and Climate Response Engagement Officer gave a presentation on Engagement and Communications progress since the last meeting and plans for the next steps.

3.2.        The Head of Communications and Marketing summarised events that have taken place since the last meeting including the EV event at Rochester Castle which included 13 local brands. Very interesting conversations with the public. Now interested in other areas taking forward similar events. Event image used at COP26 which will help raise our profile. Intend to repeat and perhaps expand to wider sustainable event, perhaps bring in electric bikes. The Chair commented that it was very successful, particularly as it allowed people to ask questions and receive impartial information.

3.3.        Other events included a Climate Change stall at Wild About Capstone, a new sustainable festival which exceeded a target of attendees of 1500 and provided a great opportunity to spread the green agenda.

3.4.        Numerous Medway Adult Education courses have been run this term. Courses range from technical through to craft and arts, involving people of all ages and abilities. Ongoing gardening projects with dementia friends at Eastgate House, trying to break down isolation and barriers. The Chair commented on projects on remaking and less waste. Also, a lot of work with young people over the summer, art reusing materials, which were very popular.

3.5.        Member briefing in October enabling councillors to come together to hear about the Climate Change Action Plan at first hand.  Included workshops on how councillors can get involved in Climate Change in their own communities, being ambassadors in their own wards.

3.6.        The Climate Response Engagement Officer spoke about the variety of events hosted during COP26. A key event was the Climate Change Conversation at the Rochester Corn Exchange, the first large scale event on climate change with the community. Pleased to welcome around 60 attendees for the evening.  The event included a marketplace for attendees to speak to different council teams on the climate change action plan, presentations and workshops, to generate ideas and then develop these further with key priorities fed back.  A report on the feedback is currently being collated, and a community network is being set up. Plans are in place to grow from this event, with future focused events on themes.

3.7.        Climate Cafés were held, well-being events in relation to feelings and fears around climate change. There was significant engagement on social media but less uptake in terms of attendance. On reflection, the council might not be the right group to facilitate the cafes and we will be looking to develop the concept with the University of Kent who were delivering the cafes and link local community groups.

3.8.        Carbon literacy taster session delivered by Speak Carbon, attended by 18 businesses and groups around Medway.  Two groups interested in booking into the further Carbon Literacy sessions which will be supported and promoted.

3.9.        The second Child Friendly City Hall event took place with a climate change section. Medway Youth Climate Change Movement delivered an interactive quiz and discussion around climate change and the Climate Response Engagement Officer was there to answer questions and discuss ways in which young people can get involved and links to be made.

3.10.    October was ‘Walk to school’ international month and this was linked to COP26 by engaging with schools to try to walk the distance to COP26 in Glasgow by recording the distance walked to and from school. The distance walked saved 5 tonnes of carbon equivalent and various prizes were given out.

3.11.    The Head of Communications and Marketing updated on how social media and small changes communications have continued over the last few months including the #SmallChanges campaign to support residents to start to make small changes that add up to make a big difference and a campaign encouraging people to think about air quality, promoting car sharing and providing information on air quality in Medway.

3.12.     The Climate Response Engagement Officer updated on digital comms.  The council website climate change pages are currently being refreshed and are on track to launch in January with the aim to be the best place for climate change information in Medway.  Pages will include an explanation of climate change, the Action Plan and updates on work and dedicated pages will be available for different groups in Medway including residents, business, schools and visitors.

3.13.    The Head of Communications and Marketing updated on how social media channels continues to grow.  Facebook followers have grown to over 2000 and engagement grew by more than 200% in September.  Instagram also very popular with 533 followers.  Also sharing with corporate accounts where there are thousands of followers to extend reach of the messages.

3.14.    Climate change is referenced in press releases where opportunity arises with 11 mentions since June. Regular email newsletters are sent out with just under 800 people subscribed. The opening rate for the newsletter leading up to COP26 was 600 which is phenomenal (most newsletters get 3-4% opening rate).

3.15.    Car portal shared with social work providers across Medway and has climate change related information, for example guidance on scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions.  There are several successful case studies where we have influenced reduced emissions.

3.16.    Internal communication with staff remains important. A section on Medspace where there are case studies and advice on climate change. Articles such as how to reduce plastic use. During COP26, a staff drop-in was held with Medway Makers to share ideas with more planned.

3.17.    The Head of Communications and Marketing advised on the next steps for communications and engagement which includes developing themes from the Community Conversation workshop to be taken forward to smaller more focused community events and which will feed into a Community Action Plan to be developed early in the new year. The feedback report will be shared with people in the coming weeks.

ACTION: Feedback report to be shared by Climate Response Engagement Officer

3.18.    Working on governance structure and how we will work more closely with businesses, starting with the Medway champions.  Good links with the Universities will be developed further to share activities such as the Hydrogen summit attended by Cllr Doe last week.  Further sharing of case studies planned.  Work with public health and Medway Voluntary Action teams, engaging more with volunteers.  Starting to plan a bigger Climate Change summit for next summer. Further engagement with school network and young people working with the Child Friendly Medway project officer.

3.19.    The Chair asked about Medway Matters and the Head of Communications and Marketing confirmed it will be covered in every edition going forward.

The group gave thanks for the presentation and feedback and commented on how important the website is as a resource.  A question was raised regarding feedback from the Corn Exchange event and the Chair confirmed that the Climate Response Engagement Officer is working on this. Also, a request to consider addressing strange ideas and myths that people have and if communications could help address myth busting too and help guide people to what has the most impact.  In relation to engaging businesses, recommend the Cathedral Business Guild Breakfast meetings that cover various subjects and could include this.  The Chair agreed.

ACTION: Head of Communications and Marketing to look at a myth busting document in Comms messages to help guide people to the best actions they can take.

ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer to contact the Cathedral Guild to engage businesses via breakfast meetings.

3.20.    It was noted that Cllr Tranter may need to leave the meeting early

3.21.    The group commented that the Climate cafes are a brilliant idea and good to roll out. Having them at ward level, held in local cafes would be positive. The Chair also suggested the community hubs. Eco Hubs are holding green drinks which work well too.

3.22.    In terms of the website work, the group asked if Climate Change could be on homepage along with other key services.  The Chair agreed and requested that this is done.

ACTION: Head of Communications and Marketing to include Climate Change on the homepage of Medway Council’s website

3.23.    More enquiries are being received around corporate volunteering opportunities from local businesses looking for ways to engage their staff in environmental improvements. The group requested a list of ways in which businesses could engage.

ACTION: Climate Response Engagement Officer to create list of corporate volunteering opportunities that support the Climate Change agenda

3.24.    Rainham Eco Hub Eco Awards has engaged local businesses very successfully.  Could links be made with larger companies such as Volker or BAE, to start sponsoring works that have higher costs such as recycling in parks and their involvement could be advertised.

ACTION: Climate Response Team to consider asking larger companies such as BAE or Volker to sponsor initiatives

3.25.    The Chair commented on the amount of work that is taking place on engagement and how the next iteration of the Action Plan should be much better as a result.


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