Cleaner Greener Environments feedback event

On 20 March 2019, 50-plus experts, professionals from the public, third and private sector and residents from England, Wales and Scotland gathered at Avenham Park Pavilion in Preston. The goal was to explore the complex linkages between the living environment, health and wellbeing. The event was the third of its kind organised by CLAHRC NWC Neighbourhood Resilience Programme to support the dissemination of knowledge and innovative practice to help improve services, public policy and community health. Despite the huge diversity in participants’ backgrounds and experiences, all those who attended were shared the desire to look critically at how local collaborations can have effective impacts on the environment and the social determinants of health inequalities.

CLAHRC NWC Partner Lancaster City Council’s Gareth Walmsley opened the morning by providing an overview of why the environment was important for health and well-being. This was followed by inspiring presentations from guest speakers from Hubbub, Let’s Grow Preston and Angus Clean environments (ACE)  as well as our three Neighbourhoods for Learning including Old Swan in Liverpool (improving the high street and monitoring air quality), St George’s in Preston (multi-agency clean-ups / alleyway improvements) and Wensley Fold / Mill Hill Wards in Blackburn (local litter #lovebombing campaign).

Over lunch participants had the opportunity to network and talk to key speakers at their stalls, learning more about the work they were doing. This was followed by a practical session exploring three environmental themes using scenarios about litter, open spaces and air pollution. For many, this activity was a rare opportunity to discuss how system based approaches can be used to identify creative solutions in their work. As one of our participants tweeted:

"Great event today in Preston to share community-based insights into addressing local environmental problems thru joined-up system change rather than simplistic behavioural approaches @clahrc_nwc #systemsresilience”

Personal insights from local residents who had participated in the work were well received. Charlotte Orme, of Better Old Swan, has been actively involved in the area’s local projects and said: “This project has enabled us to work with the local authority and planners and liaise between both them and the local community on making improvements.”

A major reflection that came in the feedback was that the workshop had sparked a new sense of commitment to think outside the box and do things differently by involving actors across the system including residents and professional agencies. Below are two samples of their reflections:

“It was very exciting to see how many people involved want to ‘change the narrative’ away from top down and behaviour change solutions – it’s high time this mind-set was shifted on to more productive and constructive ground.” (Anonymous feedback)

Fiona Ward, Senior Research Associate CLAHRC NWC at Lancaster University said, “The neighbourhoods have been working really hard and made lots of progress. Bringing our partners and the public together to share these findings will hopefully trigger further consideration of the benefits of “system based approaches” to change. This work demonstrates the possibilities of using the wider systems approach to build resilience in individuals, communities and the agencies that work in the neighbourhoods.”  

More articles     Posted on: 25 March 2019