The people of Birmingham vote with their feet and their voice daily- in this hot weather the few green places that exist (St Phillips, Brindley Place) are full to capacity with people seeking a place to enjoy the sun, and the shade, for their lunch break. When budget cuts threatened parks budgets the public opposition was the highest of any single issue.
Spending time in nature is good for us, we know from evidence spending a little time in nature every day can help to reduce depression, obesity, increase recovery from illness and extend our life. In fact, living within 1km of green space reduces the risk of 15 major illnesses. We are also more productive and likely to take fewer sick days when we have access to nature or can view green space from our place of work.
Birmingham is not alone in having the paradoxical situation of becoming more densely populated with increasing social isolation. This of course leads to widening health inequalities and social costs due to the deadly triad of inactivity, obesity and unhappiness. Those in our poorest districts live 10 years less and develop chronic disease 17 years earlier than those in the most affluent. Cities, including Birmingham, must change and quickly and make sure the benefits are felt by everyone not reinforce social isolation.