This month, we thought we’d recap on our work with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) over the last few months. The UN SDGs are an urgent call to action set by the United Nations to improve the quality of life and wellbeing for all by 2030.
In September 2015, the United Kingdom and 192 other United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a historic commitment that embraced a common vision and blueprint for a sustainable future. The UN SDGs are a key part of this Agenda and replace and build upon the work started with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed upon in 2000 and drove progress in development for 15 years.
The UN SDGs form an agenda with a wider reach and scope and broader engagement globally than the MDGs. They are based on five pillars for sustainable development: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. The goals acknowledge that sustainable development needs to happen everywhere and that inequality exists within all communities. As such, the UN SDGs are to be implemented in all nations, with a focus on community-level actions and indicators are meant to ensure that ‘no one is left behind.’
Last year, Northamptonshire Community Foundation adopted the UN SDGs into its charitable activity in support of the wider UKCF network implementation of the goals. The staff and Trustees of the Foundation have made a commitment to work with our fund holders and donors to show how their investments, time and donations make a local and global impact through these goals.
As part of this commitment, each staff member has partnered with a Trustee to champion a goal of their choosing.
In October 2020, the Foundation launched a series of online Community Conversations based around each of the UN SDGS. Working with our donors and the community groups we fund on their behalf, we have brought local people together to discuss local solutions to tackle these global goals across Northamptonshire.
We have now hosted five of these Community Conversations, and have heard from a variety of donors and community groups striving to achieve no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality and quality education throughout the county. We have heard from representatives of organisations such as AVON Cosmetics and Scotts of Thrapston in their role as donors and a vast range of community groups including the Eloquent Fold, the Happy Hood and Community Court Yard and have come together to commit to several key actions locally.
UN SDG 1: No Poverty
Northamptonshire VCSE Assembly: We commit to taking a community leadership role in taking part in the VCSE Assembly representing the collective interests and ‘voice’ of the local Voluntary and Community Sector and promote collaborative working and solutions to tackling poverty locally.
Poverty Truth Commission: We will initiate and facilitate discussion with relevant charities and interfaith networks to help establish a Poverty Truth Commission in the county so that there is a platform to bring together local decision makers with those residents living on the sharp end of poverty to support and influence policy change ensuring that decisions are made in the best interests of those most affected by them.
Supporting low income communities: We will support via local agencies the development and establishment of a community union that represents the interests of low income communities. Thanks to Community Court Yard for offering to lead on this piece of work.
Help build collaborative networks: We will promote and support the development of local geographical and thematic forums and groups online which enables community groups and charities to connect, mutually support people experiencing financial hardship and promote access to other sources of support and services.
UN SDG 2: Zero Hunger
Funding: We will commit to funding projects that cover a broad range of issues tackling hunger including food insecurity, access to nutritious food and food waste; we will reach out to fund projects that support the most vulnerable such as those being supported who have no recourse to public funds and projects that promote diversity, equity and inclusion such as projects providing culturally appropriate foods.
Partnership work and campaigning: We will continue to facilitate Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network and support and collaborate with other local food aid partnerships to campaign and raise awareness to tackle the stigma around local residents experiencing food poverty.
Reaching the most vulnerable people: We will support via our ongoing partnership work such as Community Resilience COVID-19 cell network to help fund projects that are identifying and working with the most vulnerable residents in Northamptonshire who may be struggling to access affordable and nutritious food.
Keeping Zero Hunger on the local agenda: We will continue to influence and lobby local and national government through our work and partnerships to ensure there remains a meaningful long-term focus on tackling food insecurity with sustainable solutions.
UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
Preventative Investment: We will commit to funding projects that support pro-active wellbeing management to help prevent people reaching crisis, including working with young people and children and utilising outdoor spaces otherwise known as the ‘Natural Health Service’.
Direct funding towards specialist counselling services: We will commit to supporting a call for projects that provide specialist counselling services where there are gaps in provision that cover clients’ needs (e.g. brain injury, learning difficulties and disability) across Northamptonshire including rural areas.
Tackling the stigma of mental illness and wellbeing: We will work with donors and partners to break down barriers around mental health and wellbeing especially in the workplace and the private sector including the promotion of a workplace wellbeing charter and work with donors to direct funding and address male mental health and suicide.
Addressing health inequalities: We will work with donors and partners to direct funding towards tackling health inequalities focusing on protected characteristics, vulnerable groups within our communities, residents on a low income or living in a deprived area including access to health and wellbeing support for rural communities.
UN SDG 4: Quality Education
Developing digital skills for all: We will work with donors and partners to direct funding towards projects that support digital inclusion and tackle digital exclusion and digital poverty to maximise everyone’s access to education and lifelong learning.
Additional learning opportunities such as Summer Schools: We will commit to supporting a call for projects that provide added value learning opportunity outside of school to support inclusive learning and support especially for children and young people whose learning has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Intergenerational learning opportunities: We will commit to funding projects that support intergenerational learning opportunities in order to nurture connection and community across all ages, to help promote positive attitudes towards ageing and older people and younger people, to provide role models and mentorship and grow community learning environments that build a sense of belonging and understanding across generations.
Incorporation of wellbeing, resilience and confidence building within education: We recognise the importance of emotional and mental wellbeing, personal resilience and confidence to support education and lifelong learning. We will therefore work with donors, partners and funded projects to promote wellbeing in learning settings.
UN SDG 5: Gender Equality
Increased access to education and employment opportunities: We will commit to working alongside donors and supporting a call for projects that provide increased access to education and employment opportunities for under-represented genders in Northamptonshire.
Investment to tackle domestic violence and abuse: We will commit to funding projects that provide help, guidance and support to tackling domestic violence and abuse including preventative projects for women, children and their families, protection services including family refuges and rebuilding programmes for survivors.
Inclusion of BAME communities and acknowledging intersectionality: We will commit to ensuring that we reach out to all communities to fund projects that especially address and tackle multiple barriers in our community and who additionally face discrimination due to gender and ethnicity, class, age, disability, sexuality, geography, mental health and poverty.
Education for young people on gender equality: We will work with donors and partners to direct funding towards projects that support the education of children and young people within community settings about gender equality and to help challenge negative stereotypes and reduce discrimination of marginalised genders within local communities and to highlight the benefits of a gender equal world.
Our next Community Conversation will be on Thursday 10 June 2021. Introduced by our Grants Co-ordinator Anthony Brinklow, we will have the chance to come together and discover more local solutions, this time around UN SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
In the meantime, we invite you to watch our previous Community Conversations at: http://www.ncf.uk.com/about-us/community-leadership/united-nations-sustainable-development-goals-2030