Today is World Environment Day, with this year’s theme being biodiversity. During these exceptional times, the message is simple: to care for ourselves we must care for nature.
At GMMH, we strive to embed sustainability and the environment in everything we do. In honour of World Environment Day, we wanted to tell you about a few specific projects and schemes we’re working on; and share some tips on how everyone can help make the world a more environmentally friendly place.
Transport for Greater Manchester – Bikes for NHS staff
GMMH has been able to take advantage of a series of programmes run by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). These programmes have aimed at supporting essential NHS workers by loaning or gifting bicycles.
As part of the Keyworker Big Bike Revival Programme, a partnership between the National Cycling Academy and Halfords (for which TfGM are a distribution partner), all GMMH staff have also had the opportunity for their bikes to be checked over by ‘Dr Bike’, free of charge, on site at Prestwich Hospital on selected dates over June.
Through these TfGM schemes, GMMH has been able to provide bikes to around 50 members of staff, and enabled many others to feel comfortable riding theirs; offering a much-needed alternative to public transport during the pandemic. This has also encouraged our staff to ditch the less environmentally-friendly option of driving to work; allowing us to cut emissions whilst staying safe.
GMMH members of staff Lindy and Hannah have become bike-riding partners after receiving bikes through the programme. They tell us how they have benefitted:
As part of the Trust’s commitment to the environment, we are currently writing a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy. This will ensure that we continue to put the environment and sustainability at the heart of our service delivery and ways of working. Areas of focus include:
Improving lives by embedding sustainability
Building Knowledge and sharing best practice
Reducing our impact
Working to reduce the emissions
Protect and improve natural resources
Our Sustainability Strategy is headed up by Naomi Makin, Sustainability Manager. Naomi tells us a little bit about the urgent need for sustainability and her experience of working with GMMH staff to embed it in their working lives:
Sustainability post COVID-19
Across the globe, health organisations, businesses and individuals have had to change their working styles dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic. A study by scientists from University of East Anglia and Stanford found that in April, there has been a staggering 17% reduction in daily emissions compared to the previous year. The study found that up 43 percent of the total decrease came from reduced traffic from cars, buses and trucks.
At GMMH, we currently have approximately 1,200 staff working from home due to COVID-19, which is around 24% of our staff-base. We have embraced online tools such as Microsoft Teams to replace physical meetings and stayed connected through social media platforms and regular emails. As a Trust, we are committed to using the circumstances as an opportunity to assess our ways of working, understand what has worked well, harness creativity and continue to implement the best innovations that have been borne out these exceptional times. We hope that this will have a long-lasting effect on working practices and a wider impact on the environment.
Things you can do
As individuals, there are many things we can do to protect the environment and support biodiversity, including:
Join Earth School and take part in the 30 lessons on the environment hosted by TED-Ed and curated by some of the best nature teachers in the world – https://ed.ted.com/earth-school
Learn about plastic pollution and how it affects marine species through UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign - https://www.cleanseas.org/
Look into the Anatomy of Action, which maps out actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint - https://anatomyofaction.org/
Leave some wild green spaces in your garden where pollinators and ground dwelling insects can thrive
Create a compost in your garden or windowsill and grow some of your own produce
Avoid buying single-use plastics.
Travel less - limit your travel when things go back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
You can find out about more about how you can learn, share and act in the World Environment Day Toolkit.
And finally... look after yourself. We know the current circumstances can be very worrying, and it may seem that there is a lot of doom and gloom in the news and on social media - and that can feel overwhelming. The Happy Broadcast regularly release good news stories to ensure that we are also aware of all the great things that are happening around us every day, including environmental wins. In fact, just this week, it was reported that a ‘record-level’ ozone hole over the Arctic – the biggest since 2011 - has now healed and closed! Follow them on Twitter (@happybcast), Instagram (@the_happy_broadcast) and Facebook (thehappybroadcast) for more.