Posted on By Jenny Kitchen CEO, Yoyo

2024 launch event - a 'year of action'

On a cold, windy January evening, over 120 businesses queued up to attend the launch of Amplifi at the Amelia Scott centre - Simon Heppner, founder of NetZeroNow, shared ‘Over the last 20 years, I’ve never seen so many people queuing to get into a climate action event.’

Transparency is part of our principles, and as there were dozens on the event waiting list and many others that couldn’t attend, this is an attempt to bring the event to you. 

The Amelia Scott centre is the beating heart of Tunbridge Wells, and the perfect venue for Amplifi’s home. A beautiful setting, and it easily accommodated the 140 people in attendance. Alex Greig, owner of Fuggles made sure no one went hungry or thirsty. The Small Beer company and Greensand Ridge Distillery provided our drinks and Charlie’s Angels Kitchen, our food. They are an innovative new eatery on Camden Road, where they rescue food destined for the bin and turn it into a delicious fare. And it really was delicious.

Before long, we were ready for the main event. After some introductions, we talked briefly about how we got to this point. A brief extract from the introduction: 

"Our first step last year was to create a survey to get a better understanding of people’s views across the local area. What is the responsibility of business when it comes to the climate crisis? With the help of Times of Tunbridge Wells, we reached hundreds of people across the business community. 

The results of the survey gave us the confidence that Pete and I and the rest of the Amplifi team needed. We weren’t barking up the wrong tree, people do deeply care about this stuff, and employees & customers are looking to us as businesses to take decisive action and strong leadership when it comes to reducing our carbon emissions."

Once the scene was set, we turned to a world leader in sustainability to give us the Big Picture view. Mike Berners-Lee is a veteran in sustainability and in the field of supply chain carbon metrics and management. He regularly speaks on the radio, on TV and in the press promoting public awareness of climate change issues. And as a huge fan girl, I am thrilled that he is throwing his support behind Amplifi. 

It was a sobering moment to hear someone with real credibility, so articulately and clearly explaining where we’re really at. Pete talked about his own fears and his feelings of hopelessness at times. 

It’s hard though not to catastrophize. I am not ashamed to admit to having periods where I feel really scared, really frightened, of what we’ve done and continue to do to our planet and frightened about what we are leaving for our children.

Pete Kenyon, Co-founder, Amplifi

Although those feelings are still there for both Pete and I, we are also energised that as business leaders, we don’t have to feel powerless. We have an opportunity to drive action and meaningful change. 

Pete asked us all to consider the influence that we each had. "At Cripps we have more than 500 employees, across this room we collectively have several thousand employees, together we have 1,000s of customers and 1,000s of suppliers. Towns around Kent and further afield are made up of similar ecosystems where businesses spheres of influence reach far into their communities. Suddenly this starts, not to feel like powerlessness but, if we can work out a way to meaningfully collaborate, this becomes really powerful."

As Pete says, ‘we’re the grown-ups in the room’. We are the responsible ones that can make a difference. But we also need to do this without judgement, and with compassion. We are all at different stages in our sustainability journey and we need to allow for this difference in our community. 

It’s really important to stress – none if this is coming from a place of preaching – as Mike said, we are all failing. Let’s not agonise about who is failing better or worse. 

Greenwashing is a challenging part of the conversation, but one that needs to be had. Greenwashing is when you promote the good stuff that you do, but you hide the awful, unethical practices behind the scenes. We are not interested in this, but we do believe in transparency. 

If we can be transparent and honest about where we are, what we do well but also be clearer about where we are failing, then we can start having proper conversations about the path ahead with our board members, our employees, our investors, our customers and our suppliers.

I’m definitely not saying to hide the good things that you do, and in fact we want to use the Amplifi platform to promote all the great things that are happening. Why can’t Tunbridge Wells businesses be famous for leading the way in sustainable good practices?

Jenny Kitchen, Co-founder, Amplifi

Bold vision, but we need boldness at this time. I would love for my community to be known for progressive, thoughtful and compassionate leadership and business models. 

We set out Amplifi’s aims: 

“Our role at amplifi is to try and support everyone wherever they are. We want everyone to feel included, without judgement. We also want to remove any barriers, whether that’s a lack of time or money. Or maybe it’s more about a lack of knowledge and confidence to know what to do.” 

To help illustrate how business can be used as a force for good, we invited two fantastic businesses to the stage. Andy Stephens is the head of sustainable food at Cook, which has risen from one small shop to now employing over 1700 people with over a 100 stores across the UK. Andy helped us to understand Cook’s journey and how they started with a spreadsheet doing a few things, to now baking this into every part of their business model. His phrase ‘Think big. Start small. Start now.’ was repeated by many that evening. 

Kresse Wesling was our next speaker. She is a multi-award winning environmental entrepreneur, co-founder of the luxury recycled accessories company Elvis and Kresse, a visiting professor, a board member, and a regenerative farm owner. She also holds a CBE for her services to sustainable business. An inspirational speaker, she moved the whole room with her approach to decision-making - asking the question ‘what would other people’s grandchildren think of this?’ Simple but incredibly powerful.

After listening to the big picture and gaining some ideas from organisations that are applying sustainable practices into their business models, we laid out our approach for Amplifi across the next 12 months and beyond. 

In thinking about how we best approach our Year of Action, we quickly realised that the problem is far too big to take on as one large group – with over 140 people in this room it's easy to see how this would simply not be workable. Amplifi’s plan is therefore driven around a sector approach.

Simon Heppner, founder of Net Zero Now, helped to give some clarity and understanding as to why this approach is the most effective to drive impactful change.

After a round of thank you’s, we then divided everyone into groups. Luckily moving 140 people around the building was fairly seamless and I was very thankful for the hours of preparation beforehand with sector lists, colour coding and helpers with giant signs to direct people. 

The groups were divided up by sector, facilitated by a sector lead. You can find out more about the sectors here. Each group was taken through the vision for the year ahead, which involves 4 meetings and working through a programme of activities to help measure and reduce our carbon footprint, as well as increasing our impact (e.g. through employee / supplier influence). Dozens of people signed up there and then, and more are coming through every day. 

As editor and journalist, Ben Sillitoe said in his excellent review ‘It felt like I was present at the start of something big.’ 

And I very much hope it will be. In fact, I’m absolutely resolute on it being the case. 

The first sector meetings will be running in May, so we will keep everyone posted on the progress here on the website. 

A few final thank you’s: 

  • William Benson: William has been an amazing source of support and wisdom throughout. An incredible man, and we literally couldn’t have done this without him. He’s brought ideas, he’s made connections and added so much energy and enthusiasm to this project. 

  • Our wonderful sponsors: These companies believed in our vision from the outset and have given time and money to Amplifi. From bank accounts, accounting advice, legals, to videographers, brand, web development, marketing support, sustainability expertise and loads, loads more. They have given their guidance at every single stage, and the funds given have enabled us to get this far.

  • The Tunbridge Wells BID and Alex Green provided a huge contribution of £20,000 to help our ‘year of action’ really embed. This means that amplifi is able to meaningfully subsidise Net Zero Now processes for all those interested as part of the sector group activities. 

  • Sarah Raine: Sarah has been instrumental to making this event happen. Who knew how hard it would be to run an event? She has worked tirelessly, days, evenings and weekends to help create this evening. And she’s given all that time for free. We cannot thank her enough. She is definitely one of life’s special people.

If you'd like to be involved, head over to our collaborate pages, or get in touch at

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