doc

SIXTY-SEVEN tonnes of waste kept out of landfill, 62,811kWh of energy saved and 52 tonnes of carbon emissions prevented from going into the atmosphere.

For a bunch of villagers and volunteers, they are making a pretty big impact.

These are achievements of Oxfordshire's Community Action Groups (CAG) network in just one financial year for 2016/17.

In that time the network of 62 low-carbon groups across the county put on a total of 2,104 events.

Groups such as Abingdon Carbon Cutters, Sustainable Witney and Oxford Food Surplus Cafe welcomed a total of 79,259 visitors to their food surplus suppers, apple pressings, workshops on making handbags out of juice cartons and composting classes from masters of the art.

The groups also clocked up an exhausting 21,670 volunteer hours in those 12 months – time during which it estimated, if those people were getting paid, would be worth £281,000.

The proof would be in the pudding whether the groups could boast of their carbon, waste and energy savings alone.

But, more than that, they have also saved average householders and even local councils thousands of pounds by dishing out energy-saving advice and sharing good practice.

In that financial year the CAG says it helped county consumers save some £126,000, and also local authorities shave £5,596 off their bills.

Even better than that, the groups fundraised £834,409 to go back into their own projects for the next 12 months.

To put that in perspective, the CAG co-ordinators get £92,000 funding from Oxfordshire County Council.

CAG spokeswoman Beth McAllister, a former volunteer with the food surplus cafe, said: "It was another busy and productive year for the CAG network.

"We held lots of events, had huge numbers of volunteers giving their time to their communities, and crucially a lot of carbon has been saved from being released into the atmosphere.

"Well done to all members of the network, volunteers, partners, and people out there in our communities taking the lead on community-led action on climate change."

Started in 2001, the CAG network is now the largest of its kind in the UK.

Member groups regularly run more than 2,000 events per year, attended by around 80,000 residents, contributing some 20,000 volunteer hours to the county annually.

Their combined events and projects aim to take action on issues including waste, transport, food, energy, biodiversity and social justice.

The co-ordinating team, based in central Oxford, are actually employed by Bristol-based environmental consultancy business Resource Futures.

Find out more at cagoxfordshire.org.uk