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Fitter village, healthy planet

Organisation: Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre
Location: Herstmonceux
Name: Dr Sarah Andersen

Culture

The issue

Dr Sarah Andersen, a GP at Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre, wanted to help her practice reduce its carbon footprint and impact on the local environment. She also wanted to involve some of the local community to help in achieving this.  

First, they needed to find out what the carbon footprint of the practice was. From there they could see how they could start to reduce the footprint, and how some of the 5,500 people registered at the practice could help. One of the best opportunities they found was through encouraging staff and patients to walk, cycle and lift share to the Health Centre.

“As the Health Centre works to reduce its reliance on carbon and those registered with us walk more often, we hope to begin the journey towards being a carbon ‘balanced’ Health Centre.” - Sarah Andersen, GP

The solution

The practice, supported by Dr Matthew Sawyer, did a review of its carbon footprint, where it was discovered that less than 1% of the carbon emissions were from energy use in the building due to its innovative green design. 76% of emissions were due to the medications prescribed by the clinical team, and a large proportion of this was due to the use of certain inhalers. The way people travelled to the health centre was significant too. Using this data, the practice decided on its key priorities to help reduce emissions and launched its Fitter Village, Healthy planet campaign.  

Various schemes were launched to get people in the village to become walk more and generally become more active. These included: 

  • A Green Card scheme – if you replaced 12 car journeys by walking (which would fill your card with stamps) you entered a prize draw 
  • Partnering with Herstmonceux Active to provide free outdoorexercise classes 
  • Engaged with local primary schools and scouting groups to help promote the message to children  
  • Restarting the annual Herstmonceux community walk 

Finally, the Fitter Village Healthy Planet website was launched, which helps residents find the events and classes taking place, maps for local walks, a carbon calculator and advice on how to live more healthily and sustainably.

Raised awareness

Residents have increased knowledge of the link between planetary health and human health in the village
Scouts group holding up Fitter Village Healthy Planet leaflets

840 car journeys not taken

Hundreds of green cards were given out and 70 people filled up their cards to enter the prize draw. This means at least 840 car journeys were not taken.
Herstmonceux Fitter Village Healthy Planet green cards

A healthier village

65 residents attended the line-dancing launch event, 45 took part in the first community walk and many more are making long-term healthier lifestyle choices.
People line dancing

The impact

This project has helped raise awareness to residents about the link between planetary health and human health in the village. Hundreds of green cards were given out and 70 people filled up their cards to enter the prize draw. This means at least 840 car journeys were not taken. 65 residents attended the line-dancing launch event and 45 took part in the first community walk.  

The Fitter Village, Healthy Planet website will be the legacy of the project and will be an invaluable resource for residents to continue to lead healthier, more active lives, and for the practice to continue to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Herstmonceux residents getting active

Frequently asked questions

You can read more about the Fitter Village, Healthy Planet project at fittervillagehealthyplanet.org

Active travel is very good for your health. It estimated that walking 2000 extra steps a day for one year could reduce the risk of premature death and disease by 10%. Being outside in nature is also shown to improve your mental wellbeing.

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