My childhood memories of Harvest Festivals are of staid hymns and tins of soup and sweetcorn – I wasn’t a big fan. Working in Malawi I experienced something completely different. The church porch filled with sacks of maize – the tithe from people’s fields. Lively singing and dancing. A joyful celebration. And all the more so because harvest follows on from the hungriest months of the year, when last year’s crop has been eaten, and the number of severely malnourished children admitted to hospital peaks. Everyone’s hopes are on this year’s rainfall. Will it last long enough, fall heavily enough…but not so hard as to flood and destroy?

COP26 – the UN climate change conference in Glasgow – is just around the corner. Countries are being asked to cut emissions to net zero by 2050, and commit to financing adaptations for the poorest countries suffering the biggest consequences. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, helpless and a little cynical in the face of the climate crisis. And if we’re honest, many of us would like to keep our gas boilers and petrol cars for a little longer, please.

But this is not a crisis for tomorrow. In Malawi, and across the region, weather-related disasters have been increasing for years. Rains already come late. The vulnerable go hungry. And there are simple actions that every one of us can take. Here’s a few to start with: write to your MP (details in The Neighbour), speak (or tweet) to others, join St Martin’s Ecochurch group, switch to green electricity, invest responsibly…

The days of tinned harvest gifts are over. So, this year, why not choose one thing you can do to help ensure sacks of maize continue to fill churches (and homes) around the world. Then we can all celebrate.

Susannah Woodd (Global Neighbours Committee)