Cleaner air for Islington care homes thanks to new council initiative
To mark Clean Air Day this Thursday (15 June), Islington Council can announce that it is supporting those most vulnerable to pollution by leading a pioneering scheme to improve air quality in care homes.
Every year, the air pollution public health crisis leads to thousands of premature deaths in London every year, and many more people are affected by ill health. Improving air quality, and protecting those most impacted by pollution, is therefore a major priority for the council as it strives to create a greener, more equal borough.
Major initiatives - such as the introduction of seven low-traffic neighbourhoods, 35 School Streets, the ongoing electrification of the council’s waste fleet, and the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone – saw air quality improve across the borough in 2021, the last year where figures are available.
However, in recognition of the scale of the air pollution crisis, the World Health Organisation published new guidance in 2021, which included setting tougher air pollution targets across the globe.
As one of the many steps towards achieving that ambitious target in Islington, the council has been working with nine local care homes to support them in improving their air quality – including by carrying out audits and providing unique, tailored tips to each home.
The project - which is supported by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) - sees each care home provided with grants of up to £4,000 to help introduce the measures that the council has recommended. A larger funding pot of £100,000 will also be available for the care homes to apply for later in the summer to further support their efforts to improve air quality.
Funding could be spent on initiatives including new pollution monitors, bringing additional greening to care homes, installing new ventilation and filtration systems, new planting, shifting to more sustainable modes of transport, or even changing the layout of a home to reduce residents' exposure to air pollution.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality, and Transport, said: “Air pollution is a London-wide crisis, which is already having huge health impacts on people of all ages, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions. Tackling this crisis will not only help secure a greener, more environmentally-friendly future – it'll also directly support the health and wellbeing of people across our borough.
“While we’ve already taken great strides in improving air quality in Islington, we know there’s so much more that we need to do to protect present and future generations from the impact of pollution.
“The pioneering work we’re doing with Islington care homes will help create a greener Islington, while also securing better health outcomes for people who are vulnerable to air pollution and the impact of climate change. As well as helping to create a greener, more equal Islington, the project can act as an example for other London boroughs to follow.”
Fatma Makalo is the centre manager for Bridgeside Lodge Care Centre, who have received detailed information from the council on how they can improve air quality for their 64 residents – including using a service called AirText that sends an alert when pollution levels are high.
Speaking about the project, Fatma said: “Improved air quality will enhance residents’ wellbeing, providing them with an improved quality of life.
“I’m proud that Bridgeside Lodge is involved in this project – and I would definitely recommend that other care homes take part! We’ve learnt a lot about air pollution, particularly how small changes can make a big difference.”
The care home project is one of many council initiatives aiming to improve air quality and protect residents in Islington. Alongside Global Action Plan and DEFRA, the council delivered a project educating health professionals at 15 Islington GP surgeries about the health risks associated with air pollution.