Local Mental Health Charity Announce Pioneering New Climate Anxiety Project sUStain: Transforming climate concerns into active hope

Local mental health charity, Norfolk and Waveney Mind is delighted to announce a pioneering new climate anxiety project, sUStain, which will provide support for eco-anxiety among adults and young people, in partnership with the Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) and the UEA.

Since 2018, increasing numbers of people have approached Norfolk and Waveney Mind, expressing their alarm over these issues, displaying climate grief, guilt, shame, fear, despair and rage.  This is particularly prevalent among young people and so the charity wanted to respond urgently to this need. 

Norfolk and Waveney Mind will offer a range of interventions around eco-anxiety and climate grief, when the project starts in February 2022.  These include approaches such as ‘Active Hope’, from ‘The Work That Reconnects’ approach, which is a long-established international movement seeking to enable those grappling with the emotional impact of climate change and biodiversity loss, to regain their resilience and impetus for positive action.  

The project will support:
- adults living in Norwich and surrounds 
- adults in North Norfolk urban and farming communities where coastal erosion and flooding is very evident, compounded by high social deprivation 
- young people attending the UEA

The service will be self-referral and will aim to increase mental wellbeing, social connection and positive action rather than leaning into despair and helplessness.  It includes three elements: 
1. Awareness-raising events aimed at normalising concerns  
2.Monthly “Climate Cafe” drop-ins, following the CPA model, where feelings can be shared.  Volunteer group facilitators will be trained to carry on the legacy of this important element of the project 
3. A structured 7-week group programme based on mindfulness and elements of the Active Hope model, with the best-selling book of the same name as the course handbook. A number of participants will be mentored to run their own Active Hope book groups, to widen the reach of this work beyond the project’s timeframe. 

Ruth Taylor, Social Development Manager at Norfolk and Waveney Mind, explained: “Given levels of anxiety about the climate are rising as palpably as the seas are encroaching on our beautiful local coastline, we felt compelled to respond, to help us all deal more resiliently with the magnitude of this emergency. Our project will offer a place for anyone concerned about these issues, and particularly young people, to move forwards with a sense of agency and hope. ‘Active Hope’ is a skill we can all learn to practice and put into action, even if at times, we feel despairing and disempowered. By sharing these feelings in our climate caf├ęs and courses, we can resource ourselves together and find new perspectives that can inspire us into positive action.”

Judith Anderson, Chair of CPA, added: “We are so pleased to be working with Norfolk and Waveney Mind on the sUStain project. sUstain is pioneering community-led approaches to supporting people with eco-anxiety, which will be needed more and more as the climate crisis intensifies.”

Claire Pratt, Head of Student Services at UEA, added “We are seeing a concerning trend among our students towards feeling worried and distracted by the increasing impacts of climate change.  We are passionate about offering our student community opportunities to find their agency and restore their sense of wellbeing and balance, in this midst of this global challenge.” 

For more information please contact Ruth Taylor at 
sustain@norfolkandwaveneymind.org.uk

Great Yarmouth Office

28-31 Deneside
Great Yarmouth
Norfolk
NR30 3AX
Tel: 0300 330 5488

 

Norwich Office

50 Sale Road
Norwich
Norfolk
NR7 9TP
Tel: 0300 330 5488
 

King's Lynn Office

Saunders Yard
King's Lynn
Norfolk
PE30 1PH
Tel: 0300 330 5488
 

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