Liverpool’s unsung climate change hero honoured at COP26 exhibition

A special educational needs teacher and community worker from Liverpool has been snapped by world famous photographer Rankin as part of a campaign focusing on ten ‘unsung climate heroes’.
Ibe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes .  Image:  RankinIbe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes .  Image:  Rankin
Ibe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes . Image: Rankin

Community hero Ibe Hayter, from Toxteth, founded Cycle of Life in March 2020 to encourage people in his local area to take up cycling.

Mr Hayter’s photograph will be displayed on more than 1000 billboards across the UK until 12 November.

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The images will also be at an exhibition during the United Nations climate conference COP26, which is currently underway in Glasgow.

What is Cycle of Life?

Mr Hayter founded Cycle of Life after taking part in a social leadership project run by the British Council.

He is also trained as a cycle instructor and ran cycle projects as part of a Scout group he set up.

He wanted to break down barriers to “create a cycling culture in communities where it was never seen as a viable option”.

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“I remember one of the instructors I worked alongside at a secondary school telling a young Somali student that she would have to take her headscarf off to put on a helmet or she would not be allowed to ride,” he said.

“I felt this girl was being forced to choose between her identity and riding a bike, which was unfair in my eyes.”

He also became aware that transport was going to change over the next decade with less people relying on cars and moving more towards cycling and walking.

He told LiverpoolWorld : “I had planned to start Cycle of Life then lockdown happened. I was shocked, but the initiative ended up being really successful, partly due to the fact there were less cars on the road.

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“A lot of people started getting in touch with me through word of mouth or on social media as they were concerned about getting on public transport during the pandemic or using taxis.”

Mr Hyter started receiving donations of bikes, including unused cycles from Liverpool City Council, and began repairing them: “What we realised is that a lot of people don’t cycle because their bikes are in a state of disrepair.

“During lockdown people got their bikes out of their sheds and started bringing them to me to repair. All the cycle shops were inundated and some of the prices they were charging were very high.

“Cycle of Life didn’t charge to repair the bikes, then Cycling UK heard about us and we got a small donation and further grants after that.”

Ibe with Cycle of Life participants. Image: Cycle of Life Ibe with Cycle of Life participants. Image: Cycle of Life
Ibe with Cycle of Life participants. Image: Cycle of Life
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Mr Hayter was initially working out of an old shipping container but moved to the The Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre, a multi-cultural community centre in Toxteth, in April this year.

The Cycle Hub initiative now trains people as cycle leaders, mechanics, and is in the process of setting up a cycle café.

There are courses for asylum seekers who want to learn how to ride and the non-profit also helps them plan their routes safely across the city using local landmarks. They are also trying to engage ‘at risk’ pupils aged 13 to 16 back into education.

Local families are taught basic maintenance by mechanics from diverse backgrounds including women from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Why did Rankin take the photos?

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Rankin, a photographer, publisher and director, has taken photos of a wide range of subjects from the Rolling Stones and Kendall Jenner to the Queen.

He worked in partnership with Futerra Solutions Union, which uses culture to accelerate sustainable development, for the Everyday Climate Heroes campaign.

The ten heroes range from a former coal miner to a waitress, scientists and community volunteers. The photos also feature students from St Vincent’s School for Sensory Impairment in Liverpool which has been integrating climate action into its curriculum.

St Vincent’s - Everyday Climate Heroes. Image: RankinSt Vincent’s - Everyday Climate Heroes. Image: Rankin
St Vincent’s - Everyday Climate Heroes. Image: Rankin

St Vincent’s Principal, John Patterson, explained: “The voices of all people need to be listened to, and I think most definitely our young people have showed limitless creativity and how they can actively be involved in climate action and biodiversity action by their ideas.

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“For us as a school, it’s really, really important that our children forge that way forward to showcase how people with disabilities can really be included in carbon reduction.”

Rankin, said: “The Everyday Climate Heroes all have thought provoking stories to tell. Through imagery, I wanted to highlight the extraordinary change being made by these ordinary people within their local communities and to the environment.

“This project takes the spotlight away from the world leaders and places it on the people that make up our nation, we all have a part to play in tackling the climate crisis. And now is that time.”

Ibe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes . Image: RankinIbe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes . Image: Rankin
Ibe Hayter - Everyday Climate Heroes . Image: Rankin

Mr Hyter travelled to London for his photoshoot with Rankin. “I was a bit apprehensive, I wouldn’t regard myself as a hero. I’m just trying to make cycling relatable to regular people,” he said.

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“When people think about climate change they think it’s someone else’s issue. But there are things you can do to be part of the solution. Anyone can make a difference.

“I’ve never had this kind of exposure before and my mates are giving me a bit of stick, they think it’s my Kardashian moment as I was offered make-up as part of the shoot.

“But ultimately, they see what I’m doing is just trying to make a difference in the community.”

Chair of the Futerra Solutions Union, Solitaire Townsend, said: “It’s not only the Royals or protesters who care about climate change.

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“Across the UK people are making a real difference, everyday. Our neighbours, our friends, and our children are all starting to do what they can in millions of different ways, every single day. These are extraordinary portraits of everyday people. We couldn’t be more proud to help raise up these voices.”

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