A new climate cafe is being launched in Bournemouth in response to findings that many millions of people of all ages are suffering from eco-anxiety – the chronic fear of environmental doom – but find it difficult to talk to family and friends about the issues. 

Extinction Rebellion, the local group behind the initiative say that the pop-up “cafe”, which launches at Obsidian in Bournemouth on July 5th from 4pm to 7pm, is an opportunity for anyone to drop in and chat with like minded individuals in a relaxed environment about their concerns.

Public health experts suggest that eco-anxiety is on the rise against a background of increasingly apocalyptic climate and ecological news and an inadequate response by governments. Young people are found to be particularly affected.

Liz Brereton, a Support Worker from Bournemouth  said 

“Lots of people have told me that they are very worried about the climate emergency but don’t find it easy to talk to the people around them, particularly when everyone else seems to be carrying on as normal. Talking to others who have had similar experiences can be a life-line.  

“We don’t expect anything from people who come. It’s a confidential, warm, friendly, space to explore feelings. There will be no lectures, no commitment and no expectations.”   

Daniel Glennon, a Customer Service Trainer, also from Bournemouth said

“Following the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and now the cost of living crisis, people are very much at the limit of what they can cope with. The climate news has been horrendous – the heatwave in India is so intense that birds are falling from the sky, Somalia faces catastrophic levels of famine and parts of Europe have seen wildfires three times worse than average. It’s completely understandable if people feel powerless.

“Some people find that taking action such as joining an environmental group can help with feelings of helplessness. However, the drop in climate cafe is intended to be an opportunity for people to be able to explore their fears and feelings and to be heard. We’re happy to answer questions, but there will be no pressure to sign up for anything.”

The impacts of climate change on mental health have started to become increasingly visible, especially among children and young people. A global survey of eco-anxiety carried out by Bath University in 2021 involving 10,000 young people (aged 16-25) across 10 countries, including the UK revealed that  nearly two-thirds of young people feel sad, afraid and anxious and more than 45% of those questioned said those feelings affected their daily lives. Three-quarters of them said they thought the future was frightening and 56% said they think humanity is doomed. [1]

A survey for the British Psychological Society (BPS) conducted by YouGov in November 2021 shows that 29 per cent of young people (aged 18 – 24 years) believe their mental health has suffered due to concerns about climate change. [2]

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