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Turning climate anxiety into action

In a month of action – the sustainability team at Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) have hosted a range of events to help staff turn worries about climate change into positive action.

Small group of people sat outside around a table undertaking craft activities
Staff took part in a climate café

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the climate crisis but we can all make a difference by thinking green and seeing what we can do to reduce our impact on the environment.

Katie Sell, sustainability manager

Rising temperatures around the world are being driven by human activities that are causing an increase in heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In 2019, Cambridge recorded the UK’s hottest temperature since records began, a sweltering 38.7°C. Shockingly, this was superseded only three years later by a temperature of 40.3°C in nearby Lincolnshire (opens in a new tab). The climate emergency is real and is also a health emergency.

Our first ever climate café offered staff the opportunity to come together in a safe environment to share their worries, and talk about how they could work alongside each other to help tackle the climate emergency.

In the 2021 census, around three out of four people reported (opens in a new tab) feeling anxious or worried about what climate change means for all our futures. For most of us, this anxiety is normal and shows we care about our planet and our community, but for some, it can affect their mental health.

art work produced by staff at the climate cafe event
Staff took part in craft activities to help express their worries and wishes about climate change.

Staff talked about how climate action can start small with individuals making changes like reducing food waste, travelling to work by cycle or bus, and recycling packaging rather than throwing it in the bin.

When I attended the climate café I was worried about what the future might hold; flooding, wildfires, and lost habitats.

However, it helped me rethink the positives that come with the negatives. Now I consider new innovation, communities coming together and working towards a more sustainable future.

Stephanie Fearon-Isle, widening participation coordinator

Katie Sell, sustainability manager at CUH, has organised the climate anxiety month of action as part of a programme of staff engagement.

Katie Sell standing outside with flowers behind her
Katie Sell

The month will culminate in a ‘CUH Sustainable Brainstorming' event where staff can help develop plans to reduce our carbon footprint.

CUH launched its Action 50 Green Plan in April 2022 in response to the climate emergency. This sets out what we will do to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing emissions, saving resources and working together.

The plan builds on the significant progress already made in addressing the climate emergency, and responds to the ‘Net Zero NHS’ plan published in 2020.

Find out more about CUH's Green Plan.