We are joining in with the William Jackson Food Group Bicentenary Project – by planting some of the 200,000 trees they intend to plant in the city by 2051. The East Riding and Hull region has only about 2.6 per cent woodland cover – significantly less than the national average of about 8.4 per cent. There is also the added bonus that the reintroduction of natural spaces in the urban environment will help to tackle the health inequalities that have up until now been a feature of our community.
The highly regarded Institute of Health Equality published a report in 2014, that highlighted the increasing amount of evidence that suggests that access to green spaces significantly improves health and wellbeing. It also identified how differences in access to the natural environments across England both reflect and contribute towards health inequalities. Many of the young people we work with do not have access to the countryside and so have no experience of the benefits that ‘escaping to the country’ offers- physically, emotionally, intellectually and socially.
Duncan Selbie CEO of Public Health England, in his foreword to the report makes the point that: “Recognising the role of the natural environment as a primary determinant of health is, in many ways, the foundation of modern public health. Good health and wellbeing is not solely the absence of illness; the role of the environment we live in is hugely important in shaping our lives and, consequently, our health. So this report is a timely and very welcome contribution to increasing awareness of this amongst practitioners and policy makers, both in the health and environment sectors.”
Duncan finishes by saying: “So having access to high quality, local natural environments is critically important to promoting physical health and wellbeing in children and adults. Together, through this report, we have the opportunity to look afresh at what have hitherto appeared to be intractable public health challenges, and share our knowledge and experience of what works so that we can make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives.”
What is really exciting about this woodland is that it will be planted in the same land as an Iron Age farm that once occupied the college site. This way we are reconnecting our urban youth with our long history and its roots in the earth. We anticipate planting this wood in early 2016. We hope to inspire our young people to want to engage with nature and see the rewards and benefits that this may offer them and their children in years to come. We are tackling Health inequalities, right here at the heart of our community we are making it happen!