Imagine Leeds is a dedicated space for working together to overcome the climate, nature, and social crises.
Leading figures from across the city came together for the launch of Imagine Leeds this month, the first ever climate action hub in the city centre. Speakers talked about the importance of collective and community-led action to bring forward big ideas to tackle the climate and nature emergencies in Leeds and beyond.
Speakers included Andy Goldring, City Hub Lead at Climate Action Leeds; Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council; Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation at University of Leeds; Cllr Katie Dye, Chair of Leeds City Council’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee; Hannah Bailey, Chief Officer at Voluntary Action Leeds and Arran Taylor, Partner at Deloitte and Chair of Yorkshire Climate Action Coalition.
More than 130 people came together for the June launch event, which included a showcase of activity from groups across the city working in climate action, nature, food, energy, transport, housing and social justice. Stalls, information hubs and interactive learning sessions provided the opportunity to learn more and find out how to get involved.
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive at Leeds City Council, spoke about the need for working in partnership across the city to take the crucial action needed: “Leeds will be one of the cities where we will get the answers, but this will only happen through a collective endeavour and Imagine Leeds is a great example of how we can start to achieve this through a space for collaborative solutions.”
Located on the seventh floor of City Exchange, Imagine Leeds offers 8,470 sq ft. of event, learning and working space, in an open plan layout with panoramic views across Leeds and beyond.
There is now a network of climate action community hubs across Leeds in Alwoodley, Armley, Beeston, Garforth, Horsforth, Little London, Otley and Seacroft, which were all represented at the launch of Imagine Leeds to connect with their local communities and other groups from all areas of the city.
Hannah Bailey, Chief Officer at Voluntary Action Leeds, explained how important Imagine Leeds is for providing a space for communities to come together to work on climate, nature and social crises: “We need to look across Leeds and really think about the many different communities that are out there and how we can connect to them by understanding what really matters. Community-led solutions to climate change are at the heart of this work and that’s how we will continue to build this climate action movement. Imagine Leeds provides the space to bring communities together to address the challenges and take action.”
The importance of collaborative working was also shared by Cllr Katie Dye, Chair of Leeds City Council’s Climate Emergency Advisory Committee: “The underlying theme for this evening is that ‘we have to do it together’. Everyone here is passionate to make this happen, but let’s make this hub of activity, drive and challenge, go out and show the city that we’re going to lead the way on tackling climate challenges.”
Imagine Leeds is now the base for Climate Action Leeds, the citywide, community-led movement working for a zero carbon, nature friendly, socially just Leeds by the 2030s. Climate Action Leeds is a five year collaborative programme involving a large network across the city which started in October 2020 and is funded by the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund.
Andy Goldring, City Hub Lead at Climate Action Leeds, also emphasised the importance of working together and talked about the next major challenges for Climate Action Leeds: “Imagine Leeds is a space for collaboration and cross-sector working, where we can bring people together. It’s not about shifting power from any of these existing networks or institutions, but about adding value and potential to all of them, to move us towards a zero carbon, nature friendly, socially just Leeds, by the 20230s. No single group can solve the challenges ahead – we are all needed, and we all have a piece of the puzzle.”
The Imagine Leeds space has been generously given by Landsec, the owners of City Exchange, as the first home for this climate action hub, which has also been made possible thanks to business rates relief from Leeds City Council.
Andy Goldring concluded: “This is a critical time – more than ever before - and to tackle the
climate, nature and social crises we need more, from everyone. We need more funding, we need a longer-term city centre space and we need many more people and organisations to get involved.
“There are some huge challenges and tasks ahead – working together and combining our collective super powers is the only way we can achieve that. Imagine Leeds provides the space, what we need now is even more people power to create the Leeds of the future.”
Climate Action Leeds is led by six main partners who all work together on the delivery of the programme - Voluntary Action Leeds, Our Future Leeds, Together for Peace, Leeds TIDAL, CAG Consultants and Leeds Community Foundation.
There are also key organisations, called transition partners, who are working with Climate Action Leeds to help people and organisations across Leeds understand how key sectors - including energy, food, nature, youth and education, work and economy, housing, and climate justice - can create a more sustainable Leeds. The transition partners are Racial Justice Network, People Powered Homes, Hyde Park Source, Foodwise Leeds, Platform, Leeds Development Education Sector and Angel House, as well as city professionals working in car-free design and community wealth building.
Imagine Leeds is open to any organisations working on climate, nature, and social justice, with an event capacity of up to 100 people and a dedicated co-working space for 25 people.