Shaping Henley’s Sustainability Hub

Half way into Greener Henley’s Great Big Green Week we hosted a public consultation about the ‘Henley Sustainability Hub’ – a climate emergency centre for Henley. We were really thrilled to have a full house of Henley residents attend the evening, including Mayor of Henley, Cllr Michelle Thomas, who is backing the project. The centre is in the very early stages of planning so we were absolutely bowled over at the level of interest in this event, which sold out even after we doubled the number of tickets available. 

Why a public consultation?

The consultation was an opportunity for Henley residents to have their say about what they think the Henley Hub should be. Greener Henley member and project lead Kate Oldridge kicked off the evening by introducing the project. She was followed by a volunteer from Abingdon’s climate emergency centre, explaining how their centre is structured and run, and the sorts of events, resources and services they offer. Our participants then broke out into small groups to brainstorm and share their ideas for Henley’s Hub.

The atmosphere was literally buzzing and the attendees brought such a richness of ideas, positive thinking and constructive brainstorming to the table, coming together to begin to shape what the Hub will be – what services, activities and events it might provide, and how it could be of greatest benefit to the town and to all sectors of our community. 

It was a truly inspiring evening – a great example of how we can be stronger together in the face of the combined climate and nature emergencies, which will inevitably bring some very difficult challenges for our town. There was palpable a sense of passion in the room for getting this project off the ground – an overarching determination and drive to get this done and get on with building awareness and resilience in Henley.

Next steps for the Hub

We have come away now with a treasure trove of possibilities to examine, and some fantastic volunteers who would like to be actively involved in the project. The next steps will be to form a steering committee as well as starting to build up a team of volunteers for the centre, so please do get in touch if you are interested.  We are already laying the building blocks for getting the centre launched, including finding premises and analysing the results of the consultation with a view to working out what services and activities the centre will offer.

Feedback from the evening’s participants

Mayor of Henley, Cllr Michelle Thomas 

“I wholeheartedly support the work of Greener Henley which is why I have chosen it as one of the Mayor’s Charities, and I was delighted this evening to have played a part in the beginning of this Greener Henley project to create a climate emergency centre in our town. The proposed centre – which we are currently calling the “Henley Sustainability Hub” – is gradually taking shape but Greener Henley understand that it is important and essential to engage with the residents during these early stages.   The event was very well attended which I think reflects the public support for such a centre. It was inspiring to have heard the creative ideas and positive feedback from a group of Henley residents about how we might go about setting this up in Henley. This was a great, energising start of the journey for getting this project up and running.”

Helen Bolton, mother of two and advertising production manager 

“For a long time now, I have wanted to do something about the emergency but I haven’t known what to do. The Hub will bring people together, share knowledge and provide a platform for people to take action in our local community, and all of us in Henley and surrounding areas will benefit from that. The situation sometimes feels overwhelming and the emergency will increasingly affect every single one of us, but every one of us can make a difference and we are stronger and can make more impact if we do it together.  A Henley climate emergency centre would provide us with that opportunity to come together and make maximum impact.”

Tony Hoskins, Chair of the Council’s Climate Emergency Working Group

“It was really impressive to see over 50 people gather together to discuss establishing a climate emergency centre in Henley. We need to get residents and organisations in Henley aware of how climate emergency could affect them and what actions they need to take. I think the Council and the centre could form a powerful partnership to achieve that objective.”

Thank you!

We are extremely grateful to the Mayor of Henley, Cllr Michelle Thomas, for supporting this project. We would also like to thank Henley Town Council, Oxfordshire County Council, the Tony Lane Foundation, Thamesfield Youth Association, Mercers Solicitors, Henley Royal Regatta, and Hobbs of Henley for their generous support of this year’s Great Big Green Week. We could not have achieved what we have in this week without you!

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