As we’ve been developing our approach to environmental sustainability we’ve been asking ourselves some important questions about ourselves and our responsibilities. Other people might have similar questions about why a charity that supports people with substance use and mental health problems has been so focussed on environmental sustainability.
You’re announcing with this new strategy that Phoenix is a carbon-neutral charity, what does that mean?
Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon dioxide emissions with removal or eliminating carbon dioxide emissions altogether. For us as a charity that means we’ve undertaken activities that offset our carbon emissions such as tree planting and conservation activities. We have also reviewed how we source our energy, how we use water and changed our behaviours in relation to travel in particular. There’s a been a whole range of activity to get us to this point and we’ve settled on 4 areas of focus that will guide us in the future.
• SUPPORTING PEOPLE TO CONNECT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
• REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS
• INCREASING CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE
• EDUCATING & CHAMPIONING ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Phoenix isn’t an environmental charity so why is this important to you?
There are several reasons. Firstly everyone is going to have to contribute to reducing the impact of climate change. The impact will be most heavily felt by those people with the fewest resources but we all have to act to make a difference.
But we are also in a rather unique position that means we can contribute. We’re experts in behaviour change, it’s what we do every day. We support personal, community and social change and so we have some skills, techniques and 50 years of experience that helps people make long term, positive change. And that’s what we need right now.
Furthermore, our specialised expertise in psychosocial treatment and support tells us that to make long term behaviour change we need to examine how we think and feel about ourselves and our environment. As a charity, our origins are in how individuals and communities can work together to reinforce personal responsibility through social learning and mutual self-help.
Since Phoenix developed our Recovery through Nature programme nearly 20 years ago now we’ve seen time and time again the powerful connection between recovery, community and the natural environment. We have evidenced how Recovery through Nature can aid recovery from substance use and we believe everyone will get some meaningful therapeutic benefit engaging in our shared natural environment.
What’s the plan for the future?
Our Environmental Strategy document outlines our plans for the next 3 years. Having achieved carbon neutral status our aspirations are to become a carbon offset organisation. We have some really exciting developments for the future that involved the communities in which we work and partnership with amazing organisations that share our passion. We live in extraordinarily difficult times at present. People are really struggling with the covid pandemic and the future seems uncertain so it would perhaps be easier to put things on hold and try to consolidate, but we have to keep pushing forward. It’s more important than ever that we have hope for a brighter future and that we share that hope.