By nickihodgson - posted on September 8, 2017

National Clean Air Day 2017 – Southampton

On Thursday 15th June 2017 the first ever National Clean Air Day was held in the UK, co-ordinated by Global Action Plan (GAP) and supported by lots of other organisations.

The aim of National Clean Air Day was to raise awareness of air quality issues, promote key messages for reducing and avoiding air pollution and engage with over one million people nationwide. Events happened all over the country, in schools, workplaces, hospitals and communities, and the key cities involved were: Southampton, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Greater Manchester.

In Southampton we ran awareness raising events at Southampton General Hospital, Westquay shopping centre, St John’s Nursery and Primary School and Pickles Coppice Sure Start, alongside our local partners Southampton City Council and My Journey Hampshire. Clean Air Southampton organised an electric vehicle showcase event at the Bargate monument. These events brought together councillors, local authority staff, academics, health professionals, public transport operators, electric vehicle manufacturers and owners, cycling groups, local businesses and campaigners, all committed to improving air quality in Southampton.

Through these events we spoke to over 300 people, and delivered activities for 350 school children. We distributed more than 800 National Clean Air Day leaflets and 100 airAlert leaflets. Members of the public were encouraged to make pledges and had the opportunity to try a VR experience and speak to experts about how they could reduce and avoid air pollution. At St John’s school 85 bikes were fixed by the Bike Dr, 120 pupils participated in bike agility sessions, and the whole school was able to use the closed street outside for dancing sessions, a picnic and playtime. The National Clean Air Day events in Southampton were featured on the ITV Meridian 6 o’clock news.

Global Action Plan (GAP) wrote a report celebrating the successes of National Clean Air Day 2017. In total, over 200 events, 550 media and broadcast items and 28,000 tweets resulted in 86 million opportunities to see advice and messaging on how to tackle air pollution. With #NationalCleanAirDay trending at number 1 on Twitter for 5 hours.

As part of National Clean Air Day, Global Action Plan (GAP) worked with local groups and organisations to put together a short film, to engage and inspire people to support air quality work in the city. The Southampton film, featuring Clean Air Southampton, University of Southampton, Hedge End Breathe Easy support group and Southampton Cycling Campaign, can be seen here:

Adam Goulden, Chief Executive of the Environment Centre (tEC) said:

“We are delighted to have been invited to help organise the first National Clean Air Day in Southampton. By reducing air pollution, we can improve people’s health, decrease the burden on the NHS, enhance communities and tackle climate change.”

Professor Stephen Holgate, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology and Honorary Consultant Physician, Southampton General Hospital said:

“Air pollution today is largely generated by burning fossil fuels in motor vehicles and transport. Breathing in these chemicals and particles is adversely affecting human health in many different ways, from asthma and cancer to strokes and heart attacks. As a hospital it is important for us to be involved with public engagement like National Clean Air Day, when we see our patients exposed to this clear and avoidable cause of death, illness and disability. We can all take action to reduce the impact on ourselves and others, and we must act now.”

Cllr Hammond, Cabinet Member for Transformation Projects, Southampton City Council said:

“We are delighted to be supporting National Clean Air Day and leading the way as one of the campaign’s focus cities. Southampton City Council is committed to improving air quality. The first step is helping people understand what the issues are and what they can do to help improve it for the benefit of everyone. Reducing emissions and improving air quality today will bring about long term benefits making Southampton a great place to work, live, visit and do business.”

If you are interested in finding out more, or want to get involved with tackling air pollution in Southampton and beyond, there are lots of useful resources on the National Clean Air Day website.