By Simon Dixon and Andy Goldring, from Our Future Leeds, part of the Climate Action Leeds programme.
What would change in a city if we actually acted like we’re in a climate and ecological emergency? Wouldn’t our first step be to set up a dedicated climate action hub where people from all walks of life and sectors could come together to tackle the most pressing challenges facing society?
Well, that is exactly what we at Climate Action Leeds have been doing this year, and the results speak for themselves:
We secured a space in Leeds city centre in February 2023 and by early March we opened our doors and welcomed people into ‘Imagine Leeds: the climate action hub’. It is an amazing space where changemakers come together to plan and inspire action on climate, nature, and social justice.
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, spoke at our official launch event in June which made it onto BBC Look North and the front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post.
In 10 months, we have hosted 580 meetings and events, working with more than 80 different organisations, leading to upwards of 4,800 visitors coming through our doors. This community is just getting started with the enormous task of changing the trajectory of Leeds – from flying headlong towards environmental and social crisis, to a city that’s leading the way towards a liveable future for all life on Earth.
But now we face a big challenge – our current lease at City Exchange (on Albion Street) comes to an end in December: We urgently need a new city centre space to move to.
Our enormous thanks go to Landsec, the company who own City Exchange and who are charging us peppercorn (£0) rent to use their space. In return, we have saved them £66,000 in Business Rates, which is thanks to the very generous support of Leeds City Council.
Having built up this vibrant community, we now host events nearly every day of the week, and our co-working space is home to around 50 people from 40 different organisations. We work, campaign and organise across food, transport, the arts, housing, nature, energy, and so much more.
Now we need your help
Do you know a building in Leeds that could host our climate action hub? We are looking for a landlord or property company with empty space (of around 3,500-8,000 sq. ft.) that they would like to save Business Rates on, or better still, make a long term commitment to support this initiative.
If you know someone, look after a property yourself, or have any ideas, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
As we see the crises getting worse all around us, it is vital that we all come together to transform our city into the sustainable home we all deserve. Leeds really does have the opportunity to be a UK leader in tackling climate change, help us make that a reality.
Simon Dixon is Admin and Logistics Lead for Climate Action Leeds. Andy Goldring is City Hub Lead for Climate Action Leeds, and CEO of the Permaculture Association.