City living can seriously affect the health of citizens, with air pollution being responsible for 300 premature deaths in Bristol each year.
But the question of how best to tackle a growing problem is not one that’s proving easy to answer, against a backdrop of conflicting priorities and limited budgets.
Now, the people of Bristol are being asked to step into the shoes of decision makers and put forward views on what they would change if they were in charge of the city’s purse strings.
Shape Our City is a creative online consultation that enables citizens to weigh up the evidence and have a say on the health of the city, working within the limitations of real budgets and deciding where to invest and what trade-offs to make.
Developed by Our City, Our Health at UWE Bristol, with web designers Soto and artist Andy Council, and including input from local communities, the consultation uses estimates of how much money could really be saved – by the NHS, employers, and individuals – by making healthier changes to our urban environment.
“We have gathered the latest evidence on the links between the built environment and our health and also quantified the health costs and savings from how cities are developed,” said Sophie Laggan, project coordinator of Our City, Our Health.
“Our consultation reveals these savings so, for the first time, we can make visible the positive benefits to be gained from prioritising our health in urban decision-making – and find out what is most important to you. It’s all quite exciting.
“I believe people should get involved as we all care about our city and want the best for our fellow citizens’ health and the health of the planet. Now’s our chance to have a collective voice on these matters and see what we can all do to make our city healthier and more sustainable.”
People will have to make choices between improving the quality of buildings, making roads safer, increasing the numbers of cycleways or green spaces, or improving access to healthy food.
It is part of a wider citywide bid to raise awareness of health hazards, such as air pollution, and get communities involved in coming up with solutions for themselves and future generations.
Luke Jerram’s Inhale sculpture, which took up residence on College Green for Clean Air Day in June, is part of the campaign and aims to start conversations about the invisible health risks of air pollution.
Shape Our City will be gathering your preferences for investment until November 2018. Answers will be fed back to decision makers in Bristol, as well as other cities, and could influence future policy-making.
Take part in the Shape Our City consultation via: www.urban-health-upstream.info/shapeourcity/