Timothy David Crawshaw MRTPI FRSA is the RTPI’s President in 2022
Those who follow my blog will know that my main Presidential priority for 2022 is to create well-worn path to wellbeing. The power of planning to heal or harm is clear, with many of our plans, policies and decisions having far reaching and long-term consequences downstream. But when it comes to wellbeing, business as usual, as with climate change and tackling inequalities, is far from enough. As professional Planners across sectors and in a global context, we must change the debate from enabling property-based profit to supporting the health of future generations.
Nowhere are the inequalities and challenges that we face in society starker than in the silent tragedy of the suicide epidemic. In 2020, 4,912 people took their own lives, 75% of whom were male, with the highest rate between 45-49 years old.
As a mental health survivor, and a work in progress, I recognise the challenges that can lead to a tragedy resonating far wider than the individual. I am not claiming that planning and a better built environment can be the whole solution, but can be a part. We are all aware of the wider determinants of health and the role of planning to support good mental health is a key part of my day job through the Healthy Happy Places Programme.
There are a few great examples of best practice approaches to suicide prevention in the built environment.
Next week at our FREE seminar in Durham, a partnership between the RTPI and the NHS, we will hear about some approaches that form part of the solution. The Future Foyle project, which we will hear about from our friends at Urban Scale Interventions, is a great example of both subtle and practical solutions to prevent people taking their lives by jumping from bridges. While this is a fantastic start, there is a long path that leads to the parapet, and we must better understand how we can make early interventions to tackle the causes of misery and a lack of hope. I firmly believe place has a part to play, and the movement we are creating gets this too.
My Presidential charity this year is CALM. To raise much needed funds to help support them, I am walking from Basildon to the Houses of Parliament to highlight the contrasts in life chances across the capital as well as the role nature can play to heal us and be part of the solution to climate change. The space that planning works in is firmly at the centre of social, economic, and environmental issues. This walk will be an exploration and illustration of the issues that we face in places old and new. I will be meeting people along the way with a story to tell.
Planners are invited to join me on the walk for as much or as little of the route as they wish over the three-day period. We can walk, talk, share and find hope in the resilience of people and innovation across sectors, being a movement ourselves (non-planners are also welcome).
The walk will begin on the 13th September at breakfast time in Basildon and will finish with a social in London on the night of the 15th. I am delighted that the RTPI are providing backup and support alongside our friends at The Planner. Look out for your chance to sponsor me and if you would like to know more contact me [email protected].
If you are worried about yourself or someone else, there is always help. Please contact the following:
CALM 0800 58 58 58
Samaritans 116 123