Covid-19 has challenged Hubbub to rethink how we create and deliver environmental campaigns and our role as an organisation. Now, more than ever, we feel we have a role as an environmental charity to run projects that not only benefit the environment, but that tackle social issues too. This, combined with our ambition to place people from all sections of society at the heart of environmental change, has led to the development of three new campaigns.  

1) Community cycling in Tower Hamlets 

The first lockdown saw many more people opting to walk and cycle, all across the country. There are still, however, several groups who continue to be underrepresented in cycling in urban areas, including those at greater risk of deprivation**; Women, those from minority ethnic groups, disabled people and the elderly.* This is reflected in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where cycling participation of different demographic groups is not equal. For example, of those who were found to cycle at least once a week, 6% are women (vs 16% men) and 7% of people from minority ethnic groups (vs 16% of white people)**.

To reduce resident's exposure to air pollution, boost fitness and improve mental health, Hubbub is partnering with local communities in Bow, Tower Hamlets to encourage those who are traditionally less likely to cycle to give it a try. The new community-led cycling campaign, supported by Investec and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is a collaboration between Hubbub, Cycle Sisters, and Tower HamletsCouncil.  

Early indications have shown that one of the barriers that Muslim women and women of colour face is that they don’t feel cycling is ‘for them’. This is something that Cycle Sisters aim to address through the work they do. Social rides are key to participants feeling empowered to cycle and helps tackle this stereotype by making cycling more inclusive and diverse in representation. The first group cycling training that took placewhen COVID-19 restrictions allowed, proved successful and these training groups will be expanded as soon as possible. 

The overall ambition is to create a legacy in the borough through trained ride leaders/instructors, long-term bike storage options and bike maintenance access points. The hope is that this model will then be extended to create additional cycle hubs in other parts of London and across the UK.   

2) Food Connect 

COVID-19 caused significant disruption to our food systems. With the closure of restaurants, many producers lost their main markets and restaurants had surplus stock requiring food to be redistributed or wasted. People who were self-isolating struggled to access food as they couldn't get to shops and delivery services were either quickly booked up or had a high minimum spend. 

Food Connect is Hubbub’s response. A fleet of fully electric vehicles including a van and cargo bikes in Milton Keynes are collecting and redistributing good food that otherwise would have been wasted, through our local network of community fridges. During the first lockdown, we also ran a doorstep delivery service for shielding residents. 

This is providing a vital ‘final mile’ delivery service and creating new green jobs, too. Demand for the service has been huge. Over the Christmas period the Food Connect team re-directed seven tonnes of surplus food to 1425 households (the equivelant of 750,000 brussel sprouts!).

A full assessment of Food Connect is being undertaken, exploring whether it is feasible to take this low carbon service to other cities across the UK. 

3) Community Calling 

Being digitally connected has been essential during periods of lockdown in providing people with access to education, carers, family and friends. Yet there are 11 million people in the UK with no access to the internet due to a lack of devices or ability to pay for data. At the same time, the UK has one of the world’s highest levels of e-waste with an estimated 28 million smartphones sitting unused. 

Community Calling is a partnership with O2 aiming to gift 10,000 refurbished smartphones to people facing isolation by the end of 2021.  The phones are digitally and physically cleaned and are provided with a year of free data and digital training support. The demand for the phones has been heartbreakingly high and we are partnering with local charities to ensure that the collected phones are delivered to those most in need. 

if you'd like to support or hear more information about any of these projects, please email [email protected] for more information.

*Note these groups aren’t a minority in the borough of Tower Hamlets but are nationally. 
**Sustrans Cycling For Everyone Report 2020 and Sustrans Bike Life Report 2020