We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

All I wanted was something nice to go with a baked potato…

Last night was exceptionally warm; the second warmest day on record in the United Kingdom.  I wanted something simple for tea, a baked potato with something nice.  The choice was limited at my local Co-op so a went a bit further up the road to a big Sainsbury’s store, but the shelves were oddly empty – all the chilled shelves had been cleared.  I thought they were probably just moving the stock around.

I carried on my search for nice food in the huge Tesco on the edge of town; here the chilled aisles were cordoned off and staff were throwing everything into wheelie bins. “The fridges can’t cope with the heat – it all has to be binned”, a stressed staff member told me, “it’s the same in every store”.  The same had clearly happened at Sainsbury’s.

It is 2019.  We face an environmental catastrophe and huge corporations are throwing tons of food away because their fridges can’t cope with temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade.  I was confronted by very real evidence that something has shifted beyond our normal experience – we can no longer rely on the supermarkets to maintain a reliable food supply because climate change has broken their business model.

We must be the change now.  Governments have failed to act effectively. Business has failed to act effectively. That just leaves us. You and me.  What are we going to do about it?

VONNE has been developing some thinking about climate change and environmental degradation.  Its annual conference is "Climate Emergency: A North East Gathering" on 7th November in Newcastle.  You can read a blog by Sir Paul Ennals, VONNE's Chair.  Peter Stark OBE has been travelling the North East talking with community leaders to gather a consensus on a voluntary and community sector approach to climate change.  You can read Peter’s blog.

The National Lottery Community Fund has launched a £100 million fund to support action on climate change; you can read the press release.

It’s too late for last night’s tea; that’s already a lost cause. I…we need to do something before every breakfast, lunch and tea is a lost cause.

John Atkinson


Community Action and Development Officer at MVDA.