Fringe Box



Zero Re-opens Uptown

Published on: 25 Apr, 2024
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2024

The new Zero centre at the top of the High Street

By Martin Giles

Zero is back.

The environmental “shop” and community centre reopened in new premises at the top of the High Street on Saturday (April 20).

One of the organisers, Ben McCallan, said: “The re-opening rewards the work of several hundred Surrey residents. Our new High Street premises (the former India Jane shop) will renew our focus on bringing the community together to restore the local countryside, cut energy bills for local residents, and make Guildford a healthier and happier town through community-led initiatives.”

Ben McCallan

The award-winning local charity ZERO has secured £350,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund as a result of the organisation’s track record in delivering community projects.

McCallan continued: “Countless volunteer hours from locals in Guildford and the surrounding area have gone into growing the charity since they formed four  years ago.”

Steph Bleach, at the front in pink t-shirt, with some of the volunteers who have helped the move.

Steph Bleach, ZERO’s activity coordinator, said of the opening, ‘’We’re thrilled to be opening the new premises in such a great location, especially given the success of some of our projects in tackling local issues.

“Anyone can get involved in the charity and help to support common sense solutions to the issues we face in Guildford, and that’s never been more important with record sewage levels being dumped into our rivers, parts of Guildford having the highest nitrogen dioxide pollution levels in England, and the health and cost issues associated with our poorly insulated homes.”

The charity has worked with other community groups across the county to support over 550 Surrey homes with in-person energy surveys so far in 2024, training Energy Champions to help their neighbours and community to reduce energy bills, keep their homes cosy and healthy by reducing the risk of damp and mould, and find grant funding for energy efficiency measures.

This ‘Home Energy Advice Taskforce’ service, (HEAT), with a 4.9 star rating out of 5, is just one of several projects which will be housed in ZERO, providing a drop-in service for people to get advice, book a home visit, and view heat loss from a typical home through a thermal imaging camera.

You can pick up some seeds or browse for a book.

The top floor of the building will house the Water Rangers Community Water Testing Lab. ZERO has worked closely with Water Rangers and the River Wey Trust over the last two years, training up over 200 ‘Citizen Scientists’ who test water quality at over 150 points along the Wey and Tillingbourne rivers, monitoring local pollution levels.

The team will be working in partnership with University of Surrey, testing and validating E.coli samples to assess the impact of sewage dumping on our local waterways.

Alongside energy and water testing ZERO also houses projects which focus on restoring nature and wildlife in Surrey to address the alarming figures of species loss locally, which has seen around 11 per cent of native Surrey species going extinct in the last few decades.

The premises will also host a drop-off station for many items that you can’t recycle in your kerbside bin, such as crisps and chocolate wrappers, bread bags, cosmetics etc. Meanwhile, their successful food surplus project re-distributes supplies from local bakeries and supermarkets to minimise food waste, and sees over 9,000 visits every year as residents take advantage of the service whilst coming together to reduce food waste emissions.

ZERO’s ‘Opening Day’ event on Saturday 20th had a range of activities to get involved with, including a Repair Cafe which can help you mend broken household appliances (small ones – organisers ask visitors not to show up with a fridge!), talks on Resilient Gardening as well as Microplastics, and activities for the family.

A spokesperson for Guildford Labour Party said: “The re-opening of the Zero Carbon store stands to benefit all Guildfordians. As an environmentally-focused party, it’s great to see that Guildford now has access to resources to reduce household waste and emissions.

“Having a hub where we can bring the community together to build a net-zero plan for Surrey is a gift not many other towns have.

“From bee hotels to promoting active transport, waste disposal education and a food bank for those who need it most, we congratulate Zero Carbon and can’t wait to see what they can do in the years to come.”

Zoe Franklin, Lib Dem candidate

And the Lib Dem’s parliamentary candidate for the next General election added: “I was delighted to attend the team’s opening day!

“To see such inspirational people bring the community and local organisations together for such important work is fantastic.

“Raising awareness of environmental issues has never been more important.

“Zero Carbon Guildford shows the power of what can happen when the right people have the energy and vision to bring positive change.

“Monitoring sewage pollution in Guildford’s waterways, restoring nature, fixing things we might throw away, redistributing food and cutting down on food waste as more families struggle with the cost of living crisis … This is energy and community spirit in action.

“I look forward to continuing to support the team in their fantastic work! ”

You can drop in for a browse or book yourself onto one of the talks or activities by visiting their website.

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