Healthy Planet UK National Committee Policy Lead
2018 was a pretty awesome year for me I’d say. Despite that - and I can assure you no one has told me to write this - the Healthy Planet training weekend was 100% a highlight of the whole 12
Having said that, it wasn’t as if I had been eagerly awaiting that snowy February weekend in the slightest. Sure, give me any chance to go to the Peak District and I’ll take it. But apart from a handful of other Sheffield students, this was going to be two days and night with a bunch of people I had never met before, all of whom would surely be far more clued up than myself. I had a good few hours at the bunkhouse waiting for everyone else coming further afield to arrive - more than ample time to fully convince myself I would spend the whole weekend in a state of embarrassment from not knowing enough facts about climate change!
As more and more people joined me in the bunkhouse I soon realised this couldn’t have been further from the truth. This was a group of super lovely, caring people and within five minutes of the first carload of people arriving we were already chatting, having cups of tea and playing
For the early risers (which I’m surprised included myself too!) we went for an early morning epic walk in the snow which had descended overnight. We arrived back, sodden, ready to start the day with a bowl of porridge and the first session of the weekend – How to Build a Successful
Since joining University I had been keen to make some sort of a positive difference, but in all honesty had no idea where to even start. This session lead by Anna Lewis, Students for Global Health’s Policy and Advocacy Director at the time made me realise with a clear framework of goals and actions, successful campaigns can be led by any of us given the will.
Following the break was arguably my favourite section of the whole weekend – Showcasing Sheffield*. Here we had Aaron Thierry from Sheffield Climate Alliance to talk about the incredible successes that his organisation has had in pushing to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, using this as a springboard to run a workshop on how to communicate what we know about climate change to others. Sheffield Foodhall Project followed next discussing their efforts to reduce food waste by bringing communities together to share meals in an open and welcoming space.
And this was just the very start of the weekend. Over the course of the two days we also had talks from WECAN’s director on Climate and Gender; We heard from UEA and UCL about their Schools Project, inspiring our branch Healthy Planet Sheffield to start our own; And of course, belly dancing (that essential component of any self-respecting weekend away!).
We rounded off the weekend with our final session – Planning Healthy Planet for the year ahead. This was a motivating and productive session where we established collectively the primary vision of our national network which has shaped our actions since it’s conception – To live in fair and sustainable communities which take collective responsibility for the unified health and well-being of people and our planet.
Before I knew it, we were packing away and getting ready to go back to each of our universities – but now with a new energy and amazing contacts to help keep us working towards the vision we had created. As passionate as I had been before this point, I couldn’t deny that I was becoming worn out, feeling that no one really actually cared about how our changing climate is going to affect the health of large communities now and in the future. Being immersed for just two days with encouraging people who felt equally passionate was exactly what I needed to set up for the year ahead.
But if you’re going to take anything away from this blog post here’s the bottom line – save the date for the 30th March. I hope you’ll find a highlight for 2019 too!
*Okay, as a student from
Sheffield and a big fan of this city I hope I’m allowed to be biased!