Greeniversity is a skills share initiative that gives people the opportunity to volunteer to teach or learn ‘green skills’, to use in their local community.
The Greeniversity skills exchange was set up in 2010 by Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT), to enable people with green skills to share them with people who wanted to learn.
The Greeniversity website provides a central platform for skills sharing. Learners are able to search for classes, suggest classes they would like to see and register to take part; volunteer teachers are able to register and manage the administration for their classes and other organisations are able to add relevant events and activities.
Greeniversity is fast growing into a UK-wide project and there are over 100 areas around the UK setting up Greeniversity groups – with bustling hubs already in the major cities of Cambridge, Bristol and Manchester. Local people have led over 1,000 classes ranging from learning how to forage to harvesting rainwater from your roof.
Award and follow-on funding
PECT was awarded £135,117 from the first round of Innovation in Giving to launch Greeniversity nationally. This involved a pilot with five groups within one hour of Peterborough to develop a national web platform and support resources to enable national roll out.
A further £70,000 was awarded in April 2013 to appoint regional coordinators in Bristol, Manchester and London to help establish new groups and to develop ways for Greeniversity to become financially sustainable.
Case study/learner story – John
John is an ex-offender who became one of the first Greeniversity teachers. John spent his early adulthood in the armed forces but fell on hard times when he became a civilian. He is homeless, unemployed and is currently living in a friend’s caravan. He has no prior experience of adult learning other than his army training.
He became involved with the Greeniversity after the project officer visited the Green Backyard, Peterborough’s community urban growing space, to promote the project. John became involved with the Green Backyard when he was doing community service and has since become heavily involved in the project working as a volunteer.
John attended the Greeniversity ‘bee keeping’ course and is now planning to keep bees at the Green Backyard, but this has also helped John in many other ways. Through the project’s web workshops, he set up an email address and registered online with Greeniversity. He then taught a very successful course on ‘wild foods’ where he taught 14 people how to skin and cook rabbit and pluck, prepare and cook a pheasant. He then signed up for the Greeniversity Train the Trainer course which he successfully completed and he is planning his next ‘wild food’ course where he will teach people how to fillet and cook fish.
John now regularly uses the internet at his local library, of which he was not previously a member. He has featured in the Peterborough Evening Telegraph and he has recently been awarded an Adult Learners Award.
“I feel so much more confident now; I use the internet all the time, I’ve met loads of new people and I loved being in the paper, it made me feel like I’d really done something good. I can’t believe I’ve won an award, it’s brilliant.”