Encouraging ethnic minority communities in Newport to engage with climate change through cooking, growing and connecting with nature
Summary: KidCare4U is a registered charity in Newport that works with ethnic minority communities, particularly families, young people and children, in deprived areas. They approached Egin because they wanted to start embedding climate action and nature connection throughout their work, in particular to engage their communities with nature through educational workshops, field trips, and community growing. Peer Mentor Poppy Nicol from the Global Gardens Project helped to give advice on community gardening, including practical advice about what to grow, when to grow it, and how to do it all in the most sustainable, low-impact way possible. As growing, cooking and eating together bring a wealth of other benefits, the project also aims to increase wellbeing and sense of community, as well as to open up tough conversations around climate change.
KidCare4U is a registered charity in Newport which aims to support families to acquire skills and confidence to achieve success at school, work and beyond. With a particular focus on helping ethnic minority communities in deprived areas to further develop themselves Kidcare4U was originally set up as an Out Of School Club in April 2017 with the purpose of providing weekend childcare to families in Pillgwenlly of Newport. Through working with children from low-income areas, they realised that a lot more could be done to help the children and families engaging with them to reach their full potential.
Some of KidCare4U’s existing projects include supporting families with language barrier issues, offering translation support, help to access services, training and emotional support, delivering workshops and events to enable local families to engage with each other. They also work with young people, with a youth mentoring project, volunteer opportunities, and a Saturday Kids’ Club with activities such as healthy cooking workshops, sewing workshops and connecting to nature.
KidCare4U, led by Rusna Begum, approached Egin because they wanted to incorporate a community food growing and cooking project into their offering, and to nurture connection to nature in the local community. Food is a great connector, and as well as seeing the many benefits that eating, cooking and growing together would bring to the wellbeing of the community, they also wanted to approach it in a way that was as low-impact as possible and which encouraged people to develop a deeper connection to nature, which in turn could open up their interest in ways to live more sustainably.
KidCare4U first met with their local Facilitator, Aimee Parker, to discuss how Egin might be able to help them develop their plans. Aimee connected the group with Peer Mentor Poppy Nicol from the Global Gardens Project, whose extensive experience of community garden projects made her the perfect person to give guidance.
Poppy met with Rusna, CEO of KidCare4U, to discuss their aims and vision. She delivered advice on a variety of topics relating to food growing: understanding crop rotation, soil fertility, choosing which crops to plant and when, principles of permaculture and low impact technology. Drawing on ideas from South Asia, Rusna also brought forward ideas about low-impact cooking utensils and recipes, and together they came up with ideas for community cooking events, garden projects and ways to engage volunteers. In terms of nature connection, Poppy also helped Rusna to think of ways to create a wildlife-friendly garden and to encourage the local community to engage with climate conversations through art and creativity.
“It has been great working with KidCare4U to explore how to create a community garden that supports community-based climate action. I offered Rusna some ideas and advice around how to transform a small patch of land in an urban area into a productive and inspiring kitchen garden. It felt rewarding to share experience and offer links to relevant community networks. Schemes like Egin have the potential to create a ripple effect and catalyse wider climate action,” says Poppy Nicol, their Mentor.
Through their Mentoring, KidCare4U came to think in more depth about how they would embed their work within the community, support creativity in the community, support intergenerational and intercultural understanding through growing and cooking food together, and to support hard conversations through imagination, possibility and hope – “Climate change can be an overwhelming topic to address as a community. Arts and connection can support people to overcome the feeling of overwhelm and work together to take action,” says Poppy.
Rusna was also inspired by a site visit to Poppy’s own project, the Global Gardens Project, Cardiff. Seeing a thriving community garden and space gave Rusna ideas about what the garden space at KidCare4U could look like in future.
Going forward, one of the first, tangible steps that KidCare4U want to take is to develop a community garden with a large raised bed. They are planning to expand their existing allotment site, making sure it meets the needs of their community, and to start engaging their community with nature and the topic of climate change through information sessions, field trips and practical, hands-on workshops such as repairing and reuse, as well as cooking sessions that involve the children and women in the local community.
Their aim is for climate action and environmental awareness to become a long-term, embedded part of the work they do. In December 2023, they also hosted two separate Climate Conversations as part of Wales Climate Week, where they had children deliver the workshop to their parents in order to encourage conversation around climate change.
KidCare4U is hoping to apply for the Sustainable Steps Wales – Egin grant through The National Lottery Community Fund to help with the costs of organising field trips to nature-rich sites with their communities, in order to spark interest and passion and to start conversations about nature and climate. They hope that these costs will help them to fund training and staff to run these events.
Find out more about KidCare4U:
Photo: Plastic recycling workshop at KidCare4U – reshared from Facebook with permission