Experiencing climate anxiety? Climate cafes are here to help.

As individuals grow increasingly concerned about the climate crisis – with the largest opinion poll at the start of the year revealing that 81% of people think that climate change is a global emergency – it’s time to encourage conversation on the climate and ecological breakdown.

One group that is facilitating this discussion is the Helston Climate Action Group through their climate cafes.

A climate cafe is a gathering of people who meet with facilitators to discuss their thoughts and responses to the climate crisis. It’s a space where people are invited to share their complex feelings without judgement or advice.

Created by Kat Archer on Canva.

Discussing climate change can often be daunting, frustrating and upsetting, with pangs of hopelessness. As climate anxiety becomes more prevalent, the research emerging is exploring the link between climate change and mental health, especially the negative mental health consequences for those that have suffered the direct effects of climate change. One of the most common climate impacts that parts of the UK are likely to be affected by is rising sea levels leading to flooding, with a recent study by Climate Central predicting that areas of Cornwall could be underwater by 2030. Research into flooding and mental health by ‘The Climate Coalition’ revealed that over 1 in 3 people have reported suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after having their house flooded, 20% experienced depression, and feelings of anxiety affected 28%. With consequences of climate change, such as extreme weather events, likely to increase, it is vital that a supportive space is provided for people to share their opinions and experiences.

Helston Climate Action Group are providing this inclusive space and facilitating the conversation of climate change.

A climate cafe workshop event was hosted virtually on 24th March 2021 by Helston Climate Action Group and supported by Climate Psychology Alliance. This workshop provided training to allow anyone to co-facilitate a climate cafe and support those who wish to express their feelings about climate change. The attendees also got the chance to participate in a mini climate cafe and experience the format for themselves.

The Climate Emergency Outreach Officer at Helson Climate Action Group and event organiser, Katharine Lewis, expressed her support for climate cafes saying:

“We are not immune to climate change here in Cornwall.

“I live with climate grief on a daily basis, but it is through talking about it, sharing my feelings and hearing others share theirs, that I have found ways to cope and move forward into action.

“I think this is too big for any one person to bear alone, but we can support each other and that can be a beautiful thing. We need to build strong, resilient, compassionate communities in order to face the challenges ahead, and this is one of the ways that we can do this.”

Katharine Lewis, Climate Emergency Outreach Officer at Helson Climate Action Group and organiser of local Climate Cafes. Photo: West Country Bylines

Climate cafe events are popping up across the UK with the help of these climate groups and individuals. Climate cafes are a support network for those that wish to discuss the climate crisis and feel that they need to talk with others.

Climate change dialogue is integral to people expressing themselves and coming together, whether that be through action or inaction, with the help of ‘climate cafes’

here in Cornwall, there is now a space for this conversation.

If you would like to join a climate cafe event then look out for them on the Helston Climate Action Group website.