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University makes Green Gown Awards shortlist

04 August 2011


An innovative social marketing initiative aimed at reducing the incidence of deliberate grassfires has been shortlisted for a Green Gown award in the Social Responsibility category.

The annual awards recognise exceptional initiatives being undertaken in UK universities and colleges to become more sustainable. Now in their seventh year, the Green Gown Awards provide the benchmark for excellence in the field of sustainability in the higher and further education sectors.

Project BERNIE developed a unique approach to tackling patterns of unsocial and criminal behaviour by using social marketing techniques to encourage youngsters to participate in a programme of Easter activities; including bush-craft skills, DJ skills, abseiling, filmmaking, ‘Fire-fighter for a Day’, and graffiti workshops.

The project involved a partnership between the University’s ESRC Centre for Business Responsibility, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) and Cardiff Business School in collaboration with the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS), South Wales Police and Alexander Consultants.

Dr Sue Peattie provided the expertise in behavioural change and social marketing around which the campaign was built. She explains: "The project involved getting to know and understand the youngsters in South Wales Valleys communities responsible for starting grassfires, and developing a package of measures to discourage them.

Sue Peattie WEBDr Sue Peattie

"The scheme created a package of deterrents and education, including a programme of activities to keep them busy during the spring 'grassfire season'."

In Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf where the Bernie campaign was first trialled, the incidence of grassfires fell by as much as 46%, three times its original target.

Following this success, the project has now expanded in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and extended to three other areas in the South Wales Valleys: Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, and Caerphilly.

Earlier this year, Project BERNIE won a prestigious Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) award for the best public sector campaign.

The Green Gown winners will be announced at an awards dinner in London on the 3rd of November 2011.

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