In October 2021 Amy Bray, founder of Another Way, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award for her work in the environment space. You can read Amy’s response below.
According to the Government Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers – people who are making a change in their community.
First established by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, over 6,000 US Points of Light have been recognised in the USA. UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street in April 2014.
Since then hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.
Doing everything from tackling knife crime, to supporting families of dementia patients, our UK Points of Light are fundraising, awareness raising, problem solving heroes who all had an idea they decided to make a reality. Their actions have changed lives and their stories can inspire thousands more to get involved or start their own initiatives.
About Amy’s Award, the UK Cabinet Office said, “The Prime Minister’s Points of Light programme team works to source case studies of outstanding individual volunteers for award consideration from media outlets and online research. Amy was found through this way, with her work further endorsed by DEFRA. Amy was specifically selected for recognition in the run-up to COP26, to highlight Climate Leaders and volunteers going above and beyond to inspire others to become greener.”
Amy’s response to this Award is as follows:
Dear Prime Minister
Over the last few years, I have dedicated much of my time to fighting the climate and ecological crisis. I do this not because I want recognition, not because I want awards but because I feel it is the responsibility of all of us to do whatever we can to protect our beautiful planet and because I am terrified. I am terrified that the world that I love so much is being destroyed before my eyes and that in my lifetime, I will no longer be able to walk through woodland or dive over coral reefs. Polar bears and sharks will be images online or in books and no longer roaming this earth. The flooding that has hit this country all too frequently in recent years will wipe out most major global cities and recent food shortages will become a common event. Losing all of earth’s biodiversity is a terrifying prospect and one that is all too close for comfort. I will be 27 when the 8 years we have left before climate breakdown have passed. I wanted to be a marine biologist, studying the wonders of our oceans but instead I have to fight to preserve what little we have left. The only way I know of controlling my fear is to act- to do everything I can possibly do as one small individual in a world of billions to reverse climate and ecological collapse.
At the end of October this year, world leaders will meet to discuss their plans and targets towards reaching net zero at COP26 in Glasgow. I cannot emphasise enough how critical Cop26 will be to the future of humanity.
Ambitions, targets and words are all very well but we need our government to start putting urgent action behind these. We need a holistic plan for how we are going to change our entire system to stop taking indefinitely from our planet but start sharing and giving. This is humanity’s chance to transform into a better society; one in which we tackle inequality, poverty, prejudice, colonialism, health crises, soil degradation, ecosystem exploitation and climate change. All of these are linked and ultimately stem from a lack of compassion in our modern, fast-paced, consumer-driven society. We need our government to use Cop26 as a chance to show the world how tackling all of these issues holistically can create a healthier, happier world for all who live in it. There is no silver bullet to the climate and ecological crisis. I am worried that our government and indeed the rest of the world has focused too much on technological solutions when we have such a unique opportunity to change so much more. Capturing carbon from power plants, for example, is only mopping up one problem of a broken system and while putting a massive screen into our atmosphere may cool our planet down, it is not going to bring back species or slow down our exploitation of finite resources.
We need to ensure all houses are insulated, that all new builds are energy efficient and have renewable heating. We need to end coal and new fossil fuel exploration and instead invest in green jobs in the renewable sector- wind, solar and tidal. Policies on agriculture need to support farmers to increase soil quality, use natural fertilisers, conservation grazing, plant trees, hedges and wildflowers and plant a variety of beneficial crops. Consumers should be able to afford to buy the healthy, sustainable products instead of subsidised processed foods. Plastics should be taxed and an Extended Produce Responsibility scheme introduced so that we create a circular economy for these materials, reducing their use wherever possible and making sure they are reused and recycled where necessary. We need 30% of our oceans to be protected and patrolled to prevent illegal and unsustainable fishing. We need to create functioning ecosystems once more, restoring biodiversity by planting trees and wildflowers and working with landowners to introduce native species such as beavers who will bring back wetlands and reduce flooding. Public transport should be made affordable and easy. At school, children should be taught about nature, about the climate crisis, about how they can use their voices to make change, how to live with compassion and the skills they will need in tackling the crisis they will grow up into. And there is absolutely no way we should be building new coal mines, runways and roads.
If our government and Prime Minister use Cop26 as a chance to show the world how we are going to do all of these things, putting the environment at the centre of every single decision they make, and challenge other world leaders to do the same, then maybe we will be heard with seriousness and maybe this will be a turning point in the future of humanity- one in which we stand up and face our biggest ever challenge and in doing so pave a future where humans and nature can thrive together. I hope so, because the alternative is too frightening to consider.
If one person was to spread a message to ten people in one day and the next day those ten people each spread that message to ten more, it would only take ten days for the whole world to have been inspired. That is why I believe that each one of us should do everything we can to live with compassion towards each other and our planet. Our collective actions really can make a difference, but only when each of us puts the health of our environment at the centre of every decision we make, in our everyday lives, in businesses and as governments. Ultimately, that is the only solution.
I am honoured to have been recognised by the Prime Minister for my work with Another Way alongside so many other individuals doing wonderful things for their communities. There are so many unsung heroes out there who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place and I would like to thank all of those people. Often, only a few faces find their way into the media when in reality thousands of people work tirelessly to do good and spread compassion. I am so grateful for the people who have supported me in creating Another Way; my friends and family and our fantastic trustees and volunteers. The people who have planted thousands of trees or climbed mountains in driving wind and rain, who have pledged not to fly on holiday, to give up single-use plastic or to eat more plant-based food: you are the heroes, you are the people who will save Planet Earth and you are the people who give me hope.
Personally, I am going to continue to spread the message of Another Way. I am now at university in Cornwall and I would like to establish my talks and awareness sessions there as well as develop our new 30 Steps to Another Way certifications and workshops. These are resources you can find on our website with loads of information and advice on how you can live more sustainably, from my own experience and from that of experts. You can download videos and checklists to help you on your journey to becoming an ‘Another Way Home’. We will have some more tree planting coming up in the near future and our Another Weigh shops continue to help local people reduce their waste. I am also looking into how I can expand Another Way so that we can take on some staff in order to increase the impact we make.
I am currently filming for a new BBC series- The Regenerators- which will be part of an online platform for young people to learn about climate change. This will launch in the run up to Cop26 and will hopefully empower young people to speak out for issues that they are passionate about. Several national news channels have expressed interest in interviewing me during Cop26, in particular about how young people can persuade their families to change their behaviour to live more sustainably and about how we can tackle eco-anxiety. I will also be contributing to a film by the Tree Council about the importance of nature and young people for Cop26. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to travel to Glasgow itself for the conference (it is a long train journey from Cornwall!), but I will be attending peaceful protests wherever I am because right now our future needs every voice that can be heard.
So thank you, Prime Minister, for recognising my efforts, but now it’s your turn.