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Heather Lambert describes journey so far and how it has impact

Heather Lambert

Riding my bike is my “happy place” & I’d always considered myself a bit
“green” by doing my weekly recycling! I’d wanted to do more, but felt isolated
and easily gave up when suggestions or comments were dismissed in work
and home spheres. The positive conversations I have had through RFTL,
have been transforming, in that, for me, the climate crisis moved from being a
side-issue to being a central focus. My thinking has been challenged and
developed, so I now see tackling the climate crisis as a core component in the
struggle for equity and justice.

Since then:

- a new paediatric sustainability post (part charity-funded) has been established in Newcastle (largely driven by Mike McKean)

- and I have found the confidence to engage with local climate organizations and school bike bus organisers

- have dialogue with local council members & MP, speaking on radio, TV, webinars, podcasts, & at conference meetings

- organise a RFTL ride in Newcastle and Northumberland in Sept 2022 and in support of the new Clean Air Zone in Jan 2023 and co-lead the Falkirk to Glasgow RCPCH conference ride, having ridden the blue bag from my home in Newcastle to join.

Retirement in 2022 from clinical work has afforded me the luxury of time to
join many long RFTL rides: UK to Geneva and on to Napoli and recently
round the London ULEZ boundary. I will now engage anyone in discussion
about air pollution and the climate crisis. Interestingly, listening to people, I
find that most do care but often consider its hopeless and all too big, or
somebody else’s problem. But we know there are solutions and I think
countering that loss of hope is where telling the health impact story can be so

Chinthika Piyasena

“I had become concerned about air pollution since moving to London (“The Big Smoke”) from Scotland in 2016. And around that time, I had read several papers in prominent medical journals about the negative health consequences of air pollution. But I was distracted by completing specialist training and settling into my consultant role, and I was unsure what a paediatrician could do. Until 2021 when Ride for Their Lives showed me a way to contribute for the first time, and I didn’t hesitate. The ride from London to Glasgow ahead of COP26 was one the most arduous activities I had ever undertaken, but I realised the real challenge was how I would sustain the campaign. Through ongoing engagement with RFTL, I have met a community of like-minded healthcare workers, have learned even more about air pollution and the wider climate and nature crisis, and have understood the various actions I can take as healthcare worker and global citizen.

Since the initial ride, I have given presentations at my Trust on air pollution and the climate and nature crisis, collaborated with my Trust Air Quality manager on an indoor air quality monitoring project, joined my hospital’s Clean Air Network, hosted a London-wide educational meeting on air pollution, published a conference abstract, helped trainee paediatricians develop their own sustainability projects, provided the Greater London Authority with health messaging in favour of the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and helped forge stronger ties between RFTL and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health through organising rides.

I have also become a better cyclist.”

Jacqueline Gordon

As a result of RFTL my life has changed; my friendships grown wider, my understanding and awareness of climate change and our responsibility as healthcare providers has expanded. The ride itself and the planning was an experience which brought many people together, as a result we have learnt from and encouraged one another in our activist journeys. Persuaded to stand as a staff governor, I was elected on a sustainability platform which allowed me to be, literally, at the table to talk to and influence senior managers about sustainability in the hospital. Through further learning, events, and activities as a result of the ride, I worked on a project which led to a grant application and national and international conferences about a small change I had made a work. Sustainability has become more central in my work and life and now a focus more on sustainability has led to a successful appointment as a Chief Sustainability Officer’s Clinical Fellowship for a year.

More than all these things, I feel that we have become and team which is more effective than the sum of our parts – our influence is helped by connection and inspiration personally and in our sustainability journey

Finella Craig

In preparing for RFTL I read a lot of the science around climate change and, alongside this, air pollution and the devastating effects it has on all our health, and especially for children. I was struck by how little I had known about the health impacts and why this isn’t more broadly publicised. Our modern, convenience based, fast paced, instant lifestyle is genuinely making us sick and, as the evidence suggests, babies, children and adults are dying. During the ride I started to think about what next. How could I have an impact, even if small, on raising awareness and changing the way we live? For me, it was a political issue, so I stood as a local councillor and was elected in May 2022. I sit on the Environment, Health & Social Care and Children’s scrutiny groups. I talk to local residents and promote People Friendly Streets, improved recycling infrastructure, better public transport and reduced traffic into the borough. Importantly, I have an opportunity to really highlight, as a doctor and councillor, the devastating health consequences of air pollution and why improving air quality, even if the steps to achieve this are not always popular, is an urgent and essential priority

Taking air pollution data to the next level – displaying in the patient chart and empowering action

As part of our advocacy on Clean Air being a child's right at Great Ormond St and with RFTL we met with a real expert on Air Pollution, Daniella Fecht an academic geographer from Imperial College London. Those conversations led to the idea to link the data Imperial College held of Air Pollution at a postcode level into our Electronic Medical Record (Epic) at GOSH. With the support of the RFTL community this has been live in GOSH since November 2022, will go live in November 2023 at the Evelina, Guys and St Thomas's, Kings, the Brompton and Harefield hospitals. A ride planning meeting with Manchester clinicians has stared discussions of installation there and we are in advances discussions with the Emma children's hospital in Amsterdam to replicate this in the Netherlands. Follow the link to a Poster Presentation at RCPCH Conference Glasgow May 2023 and a video of the build. If you have an EMR at your institution get in touch with mark@climateacceptancestudios.com to find out how you can use this simple idea to bring advocacy and education to your clinicians at the bedside.

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