OLDHAM communities can join in the fight against climate change through its first Green Week Festival at Oldham Library.
The festival runs on Saturday, September 25 from 12-4pm, partnering with library activities in Germany and Manchester.
Voices For Action features inspiring art, songs, and discussion to celebrate Oldham Libraries, together with Bolton and Manchester libraries, being awarded Library of Sanctuary status welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to libraries.
The event is the culmination of Climate Connections, a project by Crossing Footprints CIC, which has partnered Oldham Library and its Lifelong Learning Service with libraries in Bremen and Hamburg.
The focus has been to use educative community media activities as a way of engaging local people and amplifying their voices.
Visuals and words generated by local people converted into video and social media will play on public screens concurrently across Oldham, Manchester, Bremen, and Hamburg libraries.
The videos will be released on social media to add Oldham voices to the many voices across the world demanding action against climate change.
With Britain due to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow between October 31 – November 12, the issue of low-income communities and the developing world being disproportionately being affected by climate change is increasingly visible.
Voices For Action at Oldham Central Library on Saturday, September 25 centres on the concept of climate justice.
Created by Crossing Footprints, in partnership with Community Arts North West and Oldham Libraries, the afternoon, billed as a mini-festival, of music, visual art, poetry, video, digital media, and discussion highlights the devastating impact of global warming on developing countries and worrying projections for areas with high levels of poverty in the UK.
The increasing frequency of freak weather events like the devastating hurricane in Haiti or the wildfires across South Europe, floods, drought, and forest fires are worsening poverty and leading to forced migration especially in the developing world.
In 2018, the World Bank estimated that South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America would generate 143 million climate migrants by 2050.
Closer to home, local communities in Oldham, already experiencing the highest rates of child poverty in the UK (Office of National Statistics), face rises in food prices in the years ahead because of climate change’s impact on agriculture.
Kooj Chuhan, of Crossing Footprints, said: “The Library of Sanctuary celebration event Voices For Action uses people’s creativity to grow everyone’s awareness of climate change.
“The event is all about empowering people who don’t have a seat at the table and who feel they’re not being listened to campaign for climate justice. Creativity is global, and it’s a fantastic way to encourage people to get talking and get active.”
Councillor Shaid Mushtaq, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, added: “I’m delighted Oldham Library is hosting Voices For Action as it gives us chance to celebrate our recent award – Library of Sanctuary status.
“This was given because our libraries are seen as being places that are welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers. This is something we can rightly feel proud of.
“This event also allows us to show that tackling climate change is important to Oldham Council.
“We’ve already declared a climate emergency and everyone can do their bit to help. Now is the time to take action.
“If we all work together we can achieve our ambition to make Oldham the greenest borough in the region.”
Voices For Action features a discussion with Climate Emergency Manchester, Racial Justice Network, and Climate Hub Hamburg. The host for the day will be poet, writer, and climate justice activist Sai Murray.
The event launches a compilation video of media produced by local communities, featuring the work of Oldham Lifelong Learning Service and the town’s Fatima Women’s Association together with community groups in Bremen and Hamburg, which will play for two weeks on public screens across four libraries – Oldham, Manchester, Bremen, and Hamburg.
The event is free but does require booking through Eventbrite here. The event will also be live-streamed so anyone unable to attend can join in via YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.
Oldham, Manchester, and Bolton library services join a handful of library services in the UK that hold Library of Sanctuary status.
Devised by City of Sanctuary, the programme ensures refugees and asylum seekers are welcomed and feel confident to borrow books, use WIFI, IT, and computers, learn new skills, and be part of a library’s calendar of events such as storytelling for children, and connect to new host communities.
Smaller branch libraries in Oldham – Northmoor – will host workshops by refugee and migrant artists featuring poetry, storytelling, music, and craft on Saturday, October 2.
From 10am-1pm there will be a family-friendly afternoon of workshops from two Bangladeshi heritage artists – storytelling from Apu Chowdhury and visual poetry from Rabia Begum. Book now: http://northmoor.eventbrite.co.uk