How can we solve Bristol’s trickiest health and sustainability problems?

Zoe Trinder-Widdess, Bristol Health Partners Communications Manager, on some of the Health Integration Team highlights from this year's Healthy City Week, which takes place 7-14 October 2017.

Zoe Trinder-Widdess is Communications Manager at Bristol Health Partners, a strategic collaboration between the city region’s major health institutions, covering the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area. Its 19 Health Integration Teams (HITs) focus on specific public health issues, mental health or disease themes, where working across organisational boundaries can help solve some of Bristol’s more intractable health issues. Bristol Health Partners is supporting Healthy City Week for the third year running, and some of its HITs are running events during the week.

“I spend a lot of my life getting annoyed with cars. On the walk to school, there they are, parked up on the pavement, blocking our way, forcing us into the road. When I’m coming back from the shops, there they are again, on the corners, engines running. Or rat running through my neighbourhood in a rush to get to the M32.

It’s these things that put people off walking their children to school, or ambling down to the local shop. And often attempts to make a neighbourhood more human, rather than car, centred, such as Easton Safer Streets, can be met with hostility. The motorist appears to trump the pedestrian in so many of Bristol’s neighbourhoods, with great cost to our health and the planet.

Of course, getting on my moral high horse solves nothing. But during Healthy City Week, the Bristol Walking Alliance is approaching the issue more constructively. They are holding a debate on ‘Pavement parking – problems and solutions’, which aims to tackle this thorny issue. The Walking Alliance includes members from SHINE, Bristol Health Partners’ healthy neighbourhood environments HIT, and it’s campaigning to make Bristol a more walkable city.

Pavement parking may seem trivial to some, but it’s a serious issue, especially if you use a wheelchair, are visually impaired, are an older person or a child. Indeed, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are five times more likely to be killed on the road as pedestrians than their more affluent peers. The SHINE team are running another event on transport equity during Healthy City Week to see whether this shocking gap can be closed.

Another Health Integration Team, APPhLE, which looks at improving health in later life, will be reporting on their success in recruiting older people to their REACT study. REACT focuses on older people who already have some mobility difficulties, giving them access to a 12-month programme designed to improve their health and wellbeing.

All of these free events are taking place on Monday 9 October, on what I am unofficially calling Healthy City Week’s ‘HIT Monday’.

The ‘healthiness’, or otherwise, of our urban environment is central to our physical health and mental wellbeing. The SHINE team are also involved in an event at Arnolfini that asks ‘Is our landscape killing us?’ Getting healthy urban design right involves a huge range of people and organisations, from town planners, to public health experts, to developers.

In fact, both Bristol Health Partners and Bristol Green Capital Partnership focus on bringing people together across organisational and sector boundaries, to develop creative solutions to Bristol’s challenges, be they in health or sustainability – or both.

Being part of Healthy City Week is a phenomenal experience, and I am pleased that Bristol Health Partners is able to help make it a reality for the third year running. The week is the manifestation of our ethos of enabling people to make connections that make a difference and lead to change. I hope to meet many of these inspiring placemakers at the Green Mingle on Thursday 5 October. See you there!”

All three events on ‘HIT Monday’ (9 October) are free and take place throughout the day in The Foundation, supported by Triodos Bank.

‘Is Our Landscape Killing Us? Creating better, healthier urban spaces‘ is hosted by the Architecture Centre, and takes place at Arnolfini on Wednesday 11 October at 6.30pm

Booking links for these events and many more can be found in the full HCW 2017 programme, or scroll through Bristol Green Capital Partnership’s detailed events calendar.