Inspiring sustainable behaviour change through community action

Community Action Groups (CAG) Devon was established in 2016 to pilot a new way of working in Devon to support communities and individuals to deliver exciting and innovative community waste projects. Funded by Devon County Council, the aim is to bring about a reduction in kerbside waste, reduce contamination and increase reuse, recycling and composting within the Tiverton area. After a successful pilot, the scheme was expanded to encompass Mid Devon and Teignbridge areas and now supports 14 community groups including seven sub-groups, championing sustainability in their local communities and beyond. Ultimately, we hope to expand this support Devon-wide.

The CAG Devon project was developed based on the model used in Oxfordshire, where the project, CAG Oxfordshire (set up by Resource Futures in 2001), supports over 80 sustainability groups and in 2019, transitioned to become an independent entity.

Objectives

The objectives of the CAG Devon project are to:

  • Increase community action to reduce household waste by supporting community-led groups in Mid-Devon and Teignbridge
  • Build a proactive and engaged network of groups and individuals
  • Increase levels of reuse and reduce waste including food and residual waste
  • Empower people in local communities, increase social cohesion and create local resilience

Approach

The CAG network approach is one of empowerment, equipping individuals and groups demonstrating passion and commitment to build more sustainable communities with the tools, skills and know-how to be more impactful. Through dedicated support in a specific region, this model helps to promote local sustainable behaviours and build more resilient communities vital to tackling waste and responding to the climate emergency.

A dedicated project team offers support through 1-2-1 mentoring, guidance and wider networking, helping to establish new community initiatives, such as repair cafés, community larders and beach clean groups. The team also help to grow existing groups or deal with specific challenges. CAG Devon helps new groups get off the ground by advising on basic governance, providing insurance, training and amplifying marketing activities to a wider network. The network also champions mutual support, enabling groups to learn from the experience of other groups with opportunities for networking, skillshare days and peer to peer training.

Outcomes

In the year 2019/20, Community Action Groups Devon supported 14 groups and 7 sub-groups resulting in:

  • 265 events with 8,548 attendees
  • 6,831 volunteer hours, worth £102,305 of time contributed by the groups
  • 86 tonnes of waste prevented
  • 72 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill or incineration
  • 54 tonnes of carbon emissions avoided

The CAG Devon project team was rated four/five out of five for quality of support by 90% of the community group members/volunteers.

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