Published on 7th June 2024

The group of Climate changemakers stand before a building

A pioneering programme in Cheltenham is empowering residents to become active participants in tackling climate change.

The "Climate Changemakers" project, launched in April 2023, saw a group of 11 residents co-create a six-month peer to peer program to learn about the science behind climate change and explore potential solutions within their communities.

Planet Cheltenham, the driving force behind the project, is a resident-led initiative serving as the town's climate action hub. Established in 2020 by environmental charity Vision 21, it aims to empower residents, connect them to climate-focused initiatives, and build a sustainable future for Cheltenham.

Planet Cheltenham lead, Raechel Kelly, said: “The Climate Changemakers project demonstrated what can be achieved if people embedded in their communities are given the tools, funding and confidence to tackle the climate crisis with their own talents and ideas.

“It was a total honour to facilitate the group and watch their knowledge and ideas progress. When it comes to climate action, community level projects can seem small or insignificant, actually it’s change at this grass roots level that can have the most impact when it comes to practicing the future.”

Their journey culminated in a showcase event attracting over 70 attendees, eager to learn about the residents' initiatives and offer support.

Louise Forey, Programme and Engagement Officer for the Climate Team at Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “Cheltenham Borough Council were so proud to support this resident led piece of work. The council would like to thank all the volunteers for their dedication, enthusiasm, collaboration, and time on this project. Together, we really are stronger.”

Some of the initiatives include:

  • A Nature connection group for children and their caregivers
  • An urban orchard
  • Supporting a plastic free Cheltenham
  • Projects to support pollinating insects
  • Clothes re use and recycling projects

Climate Changemaker, Naomi Belton: “I had a really positive experience taking part in the climate changemakers programme. My project is called St Peters Orchard, a community growing scheme whereby we plant productive trees in accessible areas (front gardens and green spaces outside CBH flats) so that, as well as the many benefits of living near trees, residents can also enjoy free, organic, zero-food-miles fruit! 

“The programme empowered me to start a project that I have wanted to do for a long time. So far, I have planted five fruit trees, with another three purchased, to be planted next season. I plan to offer more fruit trees to local residents and hope to organise bulb planting in the autumn.”

Climate Changemaker, Celia Macnab: “I was thrilled and nervous to be invited to join the Climate Changemakers programme. It gave me a kick start to taking some action instead of feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Although these projects are very small and local, they all add up and have an influence on others.

“I chose to plant more trees as a way to offset the huge amounts of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere.  The project introduced me to many other local initiatives and made me realise how many people are trying in small but powerful ways to do their bit for the planet.”

Planet Cheltenham is still actively seeking partnerships with residents, businesses, and other organisations to drive change locally. CBC declared a climate emergency in 2019 and established a comprehensive Climate Emergency Action Plan outlining their path to Net Zero.

The Council acknowledges the dedication and enthusiasm of the Climate Changemakers and emphasises the power of collective action to achieving Net Zero by 2030.

This pilot project, hosted by Planet Cheltenham with support from Cheltenham Borough Council, Gloucestershire County Council, Huddlecraft and Civic Square, fostered a collaborative environment into climate science, where residents could connect with local experts, participate in interactive workshops like the Climate Fresk, and explore solutions at the Hawkwood Centre for Future Thinking.

For press enquiries contact: communications, on 01242 264231 or email [email protected].


To learn more about Planet Cheltenham's initiatives, visit their website:

Support the creation of Cheltenham's first climate hub through crowdfunding:

Together, Cheltenham residents are proving that collective action can make a significant impact on the fight against climate change.