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The young dads creating a buzz about climate action on Baltic’s rooftop

27 Mar 2024
Baltic Media Office

Birds, Bees, Bikes, & Trees is ambitious three-year partnership between Baltic, North East Young Dads & Lads (NEYDL) and Newcastle University , funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Two people in beekeeping suits stand on Baltic rooftop
Gavin Forster Photography
  • Birds, Bees, Bikes & Trees project awarded over £584,000 of National Lottery funding to help young dads build skills and confidence and support their local community's connection with nature in an urban environment The National Lottery Community Fund commits £20million to inspire more people to take climate action in communities across the UK 
  • Part of a 10-year £100 million Climate Action Fund programme as majority of UK adults say they are worried about the impact of climate change 


From 27 March, The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, is making £20 million available for ambitious partnership projects linking climate action to the everyday lives and interests of local communities and inspiring more people to take action.

The funding is part of a 10-year £100million Climate Action Fund programme. According to the latest government figures published on 7th March* 80% of UK adults are concerned about the impact of climate change. Since 2019, £78.6m has supported 550 projects to enable people across the UK to take climate action in their local communities, thanks to National Lottery Players. 

One project to benefit from funding is Birds, Bees, Bikes & Trees, an ambitious three-year partnership between Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, North East Young Dads & Lads (NEYDL) and Newcastle University to help young dads to build their skills and confidence and support the local community's connection with nature in an urban environment. 

7 men stand outside Baltic entrance with bikes
 Two bee keepers hold up bees
6 people stand infront of bee keepers

Director of Baltic, Sarah Munro MBE said,

“At Baltic, we take a long-term commitment to climate action, and that runs through our operation and artistic vision. Whilst we’re primarily known as a gallery showing international art, we are also home to roof beehives and the most inland kittiwake colony in the world. The funding awarded by The National Lottery Community Fund for Birds, Bees, Bikes & Trees means we can bring engagement with climate action alive for communities on a significant scale. 

“Over three years 180 young men, 30,000 under 16s local Primary and Secondary pupils and 10,000 local people will take part in regular activities. From guided kittiwake and bee talks, walking tours, and artistic workshops, to Climate Clubs, bike tours and rewilding opportunities, we look forward to seeing creativity flourish and for people to be inspired to take away simple, tangible steps to support nature and climate.” 

The majority of UK adults say they are worried about the impact of climate change on their local community, and 64% believe that taking individual action makes a positive difference**. 

Supporting communities to be environmentally sustainable is one of The National Lottery Community Fund’s four key missions in its 2030 strategy, ‘It starts with community’. 

Men standing with their bikes

NEYDL Founder CEO Kevin Stoodley said, 

“The pressing issues of climate change and the state of our natural world both locally and worldwide have always been close to our heart as a parenting support charity that wants the very best for young fathers, their partners and children for generations to come. Thanks to National Lottery funding over the next three years, we are excited to continue our Climate Action journey through the Birds, Bees, Bikes and Trees project in partnership with our close friends at Baltic, Newcastle University and the young dads and families who continue to lead and inspire us. 

“Alongside our beekeeping endeavours which include the management of four beehives on the roof of the Baltic and production of honey for their shop and restaurant, NEYDL has also embraced cycling, both as a way of reducing our carbon footprint and a way of reconnecting with nature. Starting with the purchase of a handful of bikes and pull along trailers during the COVID pandemic, our ‘Wheelie Good Dads’ weekly ride-outs and free-to-access bike loan scheme have proved a lifeline for many young men whose mental and physical health have suffered as a direct result of the pandemic.” 

Two bee keepers and a man stand on Baltic rooftop

Nick Gardner, Head of Climate Action at The National Lottery Community Fund, explains,

“We know that climate change matters to communities, so it matters to us. This new funding aims to bring people together to deliver large-scale, ambitious projects that will inspire even more people to get involved in climate action. We'd love to get applications from partnerships with bold, exciting ideas inspired by people’s everyday activities – whether that’s going to an art gallery or supporting their local footie team – helping to create networks across the UK and reaching communities and groups who might be new to climate action. 

“As well as our Climate Action Fund, we support environmental projects of all shapes and sizes through all our funding programmes. Over the last five years we have awarded more than £400 million through almost 7,500 grants to projects which involve environmental action, including action on waste and consumption, energy, transport, food and the natural environment.” 

To find out more about the Climate Action Fund, or to sign up for a free webinar click here.


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Men riding their bikes on a bridge
2 bee keepers tend to the bees on Baltic roof

About Birds, Bees, Bikes and Trees

A partnership between Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, North East Young Dads & Lads (NEYDL) and Newcastle University, this project will support young dads to build their skills and confidence and support the local community's connection with nature in an urban environment. 

This project aims to transform the way society currently thinks about young fathers and their relationship with nature and climate and the extent to which these ideas influence policy and practice. The project will offer young dads support that enables them to positively engage in their communities and children's lives as well as feed their voices into local and national environmental policy. Learning will be shared regionally through Insights North East partnership and beyond using national networks. This will support other young dads and lads to become spokespeople for nature and climate, and challenge social preconceptions of young dads. 

The project will support the partnership to raise the profile of young dads within their communities as positive nature and climate role models, increasing their confidence through learning new green skills and sharing their experience directly with the community so that others who may not initially consider themselves interested may become inspired to take part. 

The project takes a relational joined up approach to behaviour change, meaning that the young dads and local community will engage with the project in several different ways. After each engagement there is an opportunity to do more and carry on the relationship either through taking part in a wide variety of events and activities or through a schools and families outreach programme. 

There are three project strands: 

Young dads upskilling 

Birds, Bees, Bikes and Trees will engage young dads through providing quality training opportunities in aviculture, apiculture, woodwork, bike maintenance, cycling tour leadership, practical horticulture, arboriculture and plant growth and development. They will use these skills to share their knowledge about nature and climate at Baltic and beyond, co-leading public facing, outdoor-learning opportunities, and greening the gallery’s Urban space. Over three years, 180 young men will take part. 



Five local schools will work closely with the Green Peer Mentors, the Baltic team and NEYDL providing 150 children the opportunity to develop an ongoing relationship with the project through taking part in regular nature and climate related activities. 

A further 30,000 young people (under 16) from local Primary and Secondary schools will participate in annual tours and interactive workshops featuring bees, kittiwakes, local nature and information to inspire and engage them in tangible simple steps they can take with their families to support nature and climate. 


‘Front Room’ 

A series of monthly events in Baltic's ‘Front Room’ community space will be developed to engage a further 7200 people in nature and climate activities, such as a monthly climate club will be led by artists and engage 720 community members who will take part in climate focused activities using a variety of artistic mediums. Kittiwake and Bee tours will engage 1000 people, bike tours will reach 850 people and a wheelchair and pushchair friendly ‘down on your doorstep’ tour will enable a further 300 people to explore Gateshead Quayside from pathways. 

In total, 10,000 local people will engage in the project over three years. In addition to this a further 12,000 visitors will connect with the project whilst visiting Baltic. In 22/23, Baltic had 388,547 visitors and 135,990 (35%) of which were from Gateshead and Newcastle. 

Newcastle University will lead real time learning and evaluation for the project. Storytelling will be used as both a way to disseminate learning and as a hook to build more interest in nature and climate. A short film will be made about the project and played in the centres learning space and will feature as part of tours and talks and work with schools and other community groups who are already working with Baltic's Learning programme. 

*DESNZ Public Attitudes Tracker published on 7 March 2024 

**The Community Research Index is an annual survey of over 8,000 people across the UK that finds out how people feel about their local community, and what their ambitions and priorities are for their community both longer-term and in the year ahead. Research conducted on behalf of The National Lottery Community Fund by Savanta between 6th October and 13th November 2023. Adults weighted to be representative of UK adults by gender, age, region, social grade and ethnicity.