The Guardian had a story on 27 May about how we are suffering from lack of sunlight. The geneticist Steve Jones told the Hay literary festival about the problems of spending too much time indoors, and extolled the health benefits of sunlight. Vybarr Cregan-Reid expanded on this in an article on the same day.
I wrote a letter from the Open Spaces Society, which was published on 31 May:
Urban planning should take account of sunlight (For the sake of our health, we need to kick the indoor habit, 27 May), but the appeal court thinks otherwise. It recently ruled that land at Royal Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire could not be registered as a town or village green because it lay within an area scheduled for development. The future inhabitants will thus be denied the right to open-air recreation close to their homes on land safeguarded for that purpose. Developers should be required to create permanent new green spaces and paths, and the government should enable local authorities properly to manage and improve their parks and green spaces. From a purely financial point of view this makes sense, by cutting the costs to the NHS of an unhealthy population.
Well done Kate, it’s always been a hidden issue—unspoken, yet we don’t need to be told how important the sun is to the survival of life forms on earth. I have always argued that this is especially so in the case of people who are from tropical climates: black people are tropical beings not temperate and therefore require more Vitamin D which involves being exposed to more sunshine. Unfortunately, these people are the worst affected due to lack of access to good-quality green spaces.
We know that people from these communities suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Yet nothing is being done to support them to have the opportunity to go outdoors. It is costing the NHS huge sums of money as prescription is regarded as the only solution to problems, but that is no solution.
Charities such as the Sheffield Environmental Movement, which work with people from these communities to raise awareness and access to the outdoors, should be supported with government funding to contribute to addressing this problem, but those smaller charities that are doing good things with people at the grassroots are overlooked, with funding being given to bigger environmental organisations and charities that have no knowledge on to engage with people from these communities. If you want to know more should visit www.semcharity.org.uk.
The message is clear. We need open spaces for our survival.