Charity launches first accessible guide to recycling

The UK’s first accessible guide to recycling for people who have care or support needs has launched this week, as part of a pioneering programme delivered by the national social care charity Community Integrated Care.

The project, which was led and developed by people who themselves have support needs, has been achieved thanks to a grant from the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority & Veolia Community Fund. Creating a toolkit that is being shared with thousands of people across the care sector and offering paid employment and volunteering opportunities for individuals who access social care, it is delivering both a profound social and environmental impact.

A Ground-Breaking Project

In 2019, Community Integrated Care observed that there was no specific guide or information available to enable people with support needs to recycle or become more environmentally engaged. It recognised that at a time of environmental crisis, it is increasingly essential that the 800,000 people supported by the care sector should have the same opportunities to live sustainably as anyone else in society.

In response, the charity invited people it supports, who have a passion for nature and the environment, to plan and co-produce an important campaign to meet this need.

The ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle’ project has been overseen by the charity’s North West supported employment specialist service, ‘Vocational Support’. It has created a paid job role for John Cresswell, who is supported by Community Integrated Care, to work within the charity and across the Liverpool City Region’s care and voluntary sectors as an Environmental Specialist – a sector first position.

In this unique role, John has led a programme of weekly recycling collections and environmental training sessions, engaging hundreds of people across the Liverpool City Region. He has also trained a team of people supported by Community Integrated Care to become volunteer Environmental Champions within their services.

Together, the team have created their unique ‘Accessible Guide To Recycling’. The publication, which is purposely targeted at people receiving support and their families or support workers, distils the key principles of recycling in a person-centred way. It makes a powerful case for recycling being an essential right that everyone should have access to. It is being distributed as a free resource for care providers and community groups, with the aim of positively influencing thousands of people.

Renata Davies, Vocational Support Manager said:

“At Community Integrated Care, we believe that people with care and support needs should have the same rights as everyone else. At a time when we increasingly understand our environmental impact, it is vital that people who access social care are given equal opportunities to lead sustainable lifestyles. We believe that this guide will become an important and well-used resource, not only within our charity but across the care sector too – inspiring thousands of people.

“We are incredibly proud of John and his Environmental Champion teammates for their achievements in delivering this wonderful project. Our thanks go to the Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority and Veolia Community Fund for their vision in commissioning this project.”

John Creswell said:

“Leading this project has been a dream job. I have loved learning about the environment and how we can all make a difference through recycling. It has been a pleasure to help others to join me in learning how they can make a difference to the environment too. I hope that the guide helps many people. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and made this project possible.”

Councillor Tony Concepcion, Chairperson of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority, said:

“We’re so pleased to be supporting this project which, while looking to reduce waste, is also providing opportunities to train and develop the recycling knowledge and upcycling skills amongst their volunteers and eco-champions. The impact they’re having on the local community and the environment is invaluable.”