Hugh Myddelton School Pocket Forest

Six Islington Forest for Change trees have been planted in a Clerkenwell school playground to create a natural play area, provide clean air and address climate change.

One of our goals for planting Islington Forest for Change trees is to benefit as many school children as possible. So when deciding on locations for the 200 trees, we prioritised planting locations in and outside schools.

Hugh Myddelton school children in the south of the borough are exposed to high levels of air pollution during their school day. So when they got in touch we were very keen to help.

Associate Head Tim Barber heard about Islington Forest for Change through our campaign and asked if the nursery could be a potential location. He already had plans to create a natural play area for the nursery and was keen to plant some trees.

“We want children to be able to be themselves when they play, even if that means getting dirty. The new playground will give children access to play in and around the trees during their day and bring all the benefits that being in nature provides. We are strong advocates of forest school and will now able to provide this on site.”

Tim Barber, Associate Headteacher

The trees are an important part of the naturalisation of the playground in an otherwise urban environment and will bring numerous benefits to Hugh Myddelton school children. In addition, the school will be planting a hedgerow along the fences creating a green wall that will shield the children from the surrounding car park. The ground will be left to become a meadow and for leaves to fall and rot, returning nutrients to the ground. Tim understands that allowing this natural process to take place, rather than keeping manicured lawns, will nourish the trees. Being able to kick around in the leaves during the autumn, squelch in mud doing the winter and see the blossom in spring will enable children to experience and appreciate the cycle of nature.

The six trees bring greenery into an otherwise urban environment. The increase of nature and green space will bring mental and physical health benefits to the children and help improve their learning. In addition, they reduce the risk of flooding, provide shade on hot days and places for children to play. They release oxygen and store carbon, addressing climate change.

Planting a group of trees together means they are more likely to thrive and live healthier, longer lives. Under the ground, the trees communicate to each other, sharing nutrients. Their positive effects against climate change are amplified when they are planted in a group.

Islington Forest for Change is a campaign led by Islington Clean Air Parents and green partners. The trees were donated to us by the Forest for Change exhibition at Somerset House in June 2021. We successfully crowdfunded to fund this project and it was incredibly well supported but residents. Our team also engaged councillors who donated LIFF funds from 15 out of the 16 wards. We are working in partnership with Islington Council and their tree team to plant the trees and agree suitable locations. Our objective is to see them planted in areas most needed and that the whole borough benefits from them.

Islington Council are planting 450 trees this year so Islington Forest for Change trees increases this target by 40%. This project has highlighted the passion residents have for trees and their wish for more in their neighbourhoods. We would like the council to increase their planting targets and aim for 40% street canopy cover by 2030.

Islington Forest for Change is a successful collaboration between community, council and business, made possible by the hard work of a team of volunteers keen to bring positive change to the borough.

Schools and parents interested in greening a playground, planting hedges, trees or even a pocket forest please email us: islingtoncleanair@gmail.com


Nurture Workshop Series

Nurture: The Environment and You – working together to protect and restore. Get informed, get inspired and get involved

To ‘nurture’ is to care and protect something that is growing. This series of workshops will provide the tools you need to nurture yourself, your family and your environment.

Whether you are just beginning to think about climate change issues or are already involved in positive change there is something for everyone. We will cover key aspects of our daily lives, such as eating well, gardening and growing food, the health benefits of walking, child-friendly streets, local wildlife, tree planting and more.

Gain a better understanding of climate change, how it will affect you and how you can make a difference in your life and local community. Each session will be led by  a guest speaker with an opportunity to ask questions and share ideas.

Launch event Tuesday 30th November, at 7:30pm

David Saddington, Head of International Nature Campaign COP26, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, our keynote speaker. He was joined by seven workshop leaders who will give an overview of their events which run through to late Spring 2022.

We are delighted to be collaborating with the brilliant Inspiring Sustainable Islington to bring you this series of free workshops. It is designed to make taking personal action over climate change more manageable and seem less daunting. 

Climate change can seem very overwhelming. Although scientists have been warning about the impact of human behaviour on our planet for 30 years, it has suddenly hit the headlines over recent months. Firstly, in August when the IPCC report said it’s “code red for humanity”, it is proved that Global warming is a result of human greenhouse gas emission and that it’s having a catastrophic effect on our planet. Then again, during COP26, the global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. 

The United Nations has made clear that the world needs ‘urgent climate action’ to limit carbon emissions and keep temperatures below 1.5C. Sadly, the outcomes of COP26 are disappointing. However, life goes on, but we know it’s not ‘business as usual’; colossal change is required and it needs to happen fast.  Islington is the 6th borough most vulnerable to climate change (source: GLA Risk of Climate Change). We are a very densely populated area, with very little green space (and a lot of concrete).

The planet is our home, and it needs nurturing. We cannot solve the global crisis on our own, but we can all make a difference in our daily lives by taking action to restore and protect our environment.

We hope to fast-track you to finding practical solutions in your daily lives:

  • Get informed. Understanding the problem helps us find solutions;
  • Get involved in positive change. Small efforts can make all the difference. You can change your own life and be an inspiration to others;
  • Join or start a campaign and work with others on causes you believe in;
  • Encourage your family, school and employers to live in an eco-friendly way;
  • You can make a difference in your life with positive action. 

Other topics which will be included in the series: Climate Safe Streets,  Healthy Streets Scorecard, Regenerative Farming & Rewilding, ethical finance and how to live within your carbon budget. If you are passionate about a topic and would like it to be included in this series, do get in touch; we’d be delighted to chat.

If you missed the launch of Nurture on 30th November, don’t worry, we recorded it !

  • Rachael : context and introduction to NurtureIslington 02:08
  • David : keynote speaker: 07:04
  • Ursula: environmentally sustainable diet: 32:30
  • Mike: why should we care about birds: 44:26
  • Emma/Rachael: I-Spy and Footways local walks: 50:09
  • Brenda: how to achieve community parklets: 56:42
  • Lucy: why trees are our friends: 01:02:26
  • Melanie: our health, the NHS and the climate emergency: 01:09:46
  • Farmer Tom: regenerative farming: 01:12:44
Nurture Launch Event, 30th November 2021

COP26 – What can we do?

We have a problem. It is has been proved that human activity is destroying the earth. The science has been clear for decades; burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) is responsible for climate change. We have been lied to by fossil fuel companies such as Shell and BP. They are spending trillions of dollars supressing data, greenwashing and discrediting climate science for years, and now some of them are on trial in the US.  The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They make huge profits whilst polluting and brutalising the planet resulting in a rise in temperature causing a catastrophe for all living things.

Global warming as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions is having a catastrophic effect on our planet. Our climate is changing, with more frequent extreme weather events, such as: wildfires in the Greece, US and Australia; heatwaves in North America and Russia; flooding in England, Germany and China. Some changes are now irreversible, the polar icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising dramatically, oceans are heating-up destroying coral reefs and marine life, many animal species are becoming extinct.  Land and sea are becoming uninhabitable resulting in mass migration and loss of human and animal life.

The rich in the richest nations are the most responsible for this global climate crisis and the poor are the first to suffer the consequences.

A recent report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said it’s code red for humanity’. It will not affect some imagined future generations in other countries –  it’s happening to people living NOW and WILL have an impact on you, your children and your grandchildren.  It’s literally on our doorstep – the recent flooding in London will now be a regular occurrence we have to adapt to. Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with around 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure. 

Solutions are available

As Sir David Attenborough said in his opening speech to COP26 delegates this week, are we doomed because we are “failing to see the bigger picture in pursuit of short-term goals?” However, he urged world leaders to “turn this tragedy in to a triumph” he also said, “we are after all the greatest problem solvers that ever existed on Earth” and “We must fix our sights on keeping below 1.5 degrees.” We have a choice we can put this in reverse as solutions are available and we will all benefit.

We are after all the greatest problem solvers that ever existed on Earth.”

Sir David Attenborough, COP26 People’s Advocate.

This month world leaders are meeting for COP26 in Glasgow to discuss how they work together to limit temperature rises to 1.5C. Should we sit back and wait for them to provide the answers? No. They are falling very far short of meeting the targets set by the Paris agreement in 2015. We must do everything we can to protect our loved ones and our environment because every individual action does make a difference. If we don’t act, can we look our children and young people in the eye and say “I did everything I could to reverse this climate catastrophe and improve our environment?”

There’s a decision to make; do we stand by and watch our own destruction over the next decade or do we act now. We all have busy lives but there is time, it can be found. As individuals we can make changes by altering our behaviour right now, this week you can reduce: car use; consumption and waste; eat less meat and lobby your leaders and politicians to enable us to make better choices.  

Together we are stronger

It’s not too late, get involved and use your energy to find solutions not problems. We need to work together and ensure no one is left behind because together we are stronger. Where ever you are on join millions of people on Saturday 6th November for the Global Day of Action and show world leaders the time for action is now.  It’s expected 100,000 people will march at COP26 in Glasgow, the other main march is here in London – Global Day of Action, 12pm, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London. See COP26coalition.org for details.

If you’re not able to join the march there are many other ways to get involved. Whatever your interests and skills they are needed. Join us and become a member or join another community group such as islingtonalliance.com or lowtrafficislington.org or national organisations like the Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace.  Whatever you do, get informed and ACT NOW!


The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill

Islington Clean Air Parents and our children joined many other families for a children’s summit outside Parliament on 8th September 2021 to share their concerns with MPs about air pollution and the climate and nature crisis. The event was organised by Zero Hour and Letters for Future, the campaigners behind The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (The CEE Bill).

Children handed their letters to MPs and made banners to show them how concerned they are about climate change. It was very powerful and moving to hear children speak with such passion about their hopes and fears.  They want the Government to prioritise the environment and do more to protect their future. One 9 year old boy from Islington wrote “we are animals and nature, if animals and nature die we die too.”

We spoke to MP Caroline Lucas, who has brought this bill to Parliament, she said “Children see the connection between humans and nature, but sadly there is a disconnect for many adults.” 

We are grateful to MPs who took the time to listen to our children, including Islington South MP, Emily Thornberry, who was there but has not officially signed up yet.  It is essential the government back the CEE Bill because legislation is the best way to protect our children’s health and their future.   

What can you do?   

Declare your support for the CEE Bill. It’s really easy to do via the Zero Hour link here. It’s really important you let your MP know that you care about this, that your children care about this and you want the Government to care about this enough to commit to action.

They need to hear from as many people as possible so please share widely to insure the climate and nature and emergency is at the heart of Government policy by passing this bill.   

The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (The CEE Bill)   The bill was first set up in 2008 with contributions from eminent scientists, academics and lawyers. It was first presented to parlament in 2020 and now has the backing of many MPs, Peers and many others from a wide variety of backgrounds.     There are 140 MPs and Peers from across all the major parties currently supporting the Bill, including the Islington North MP, Jeremy Corbyn. However, there are a total of 650 MPs in Parliament so there is more work to be done to gain more support.  

Parliament declared a Climate Emergency back in 2019 but action has not matched their words. The CEE Bill can do that.   

Law making can be a long process the Environment Bill was first published almost three years ago, still needs to finish its passage through the Lords and House of Commons. The timelines are not yet known but the government is likely to want to wrap things up before COP26 in November. Declaring your support NOW is critically important Here.


6th September: The House of Lords demanded a more ambitious approach by the UK Government to tackle air pollution.   Peers voted in favour of an amendment to the Environment Bill that would commit the government to reduce levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), one of the most harmful pollutants, to within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines by 2030 – at the latest.

21st October:

Climate Change Debate in the House of Commons.

An open letter was presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnston signed by 800+ including scientists, businesses, campaigners and politicians called for joined up climate-nature emergency plan for COP26 .



Call to Action! Green Heart campaign


Islington Clean Air Parents and other local groups have been campaigning for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) see our article here

In 2020, local residents all over Islington came together to support the Council’s positive action to create Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, aka People Friendly Streets.  We are supporting the move to reduce traffic and transform our streets into spaces that children can enjoy, where they feel safe and most importantly can breathe cleaner air. 

ICAP and our members have proudly supported and joined with local residents to get local low traffic neighbourhood campaign groups up and running, and we continue to be active supporters. These neighbourhood groups now have informative websites, thousands of members and Twitter followers. The numbers have grown so much that we are delighted to announce the neighbourhood groups have come together under one umbrella as Low Traffic Islington www.lowtrafficislington.org

Your call to Action:

If you want less traffic on your street join us and thousands of others as we show our love for a #lowtrafficislington with a Green Heart 💚

The idea is to have as many Green Heart posters as possible in windows all across Islington to show the enormous number of people who want a low traffic Islington, with cleaner, healthier and safer streets.

Please print off a green heart 💚 and put it in your window. For all budding artists there’s one to colour in – let your children get creative!

[Outline Heart to Colour In]

[Green Heart on Blue Background]

[Green Heart on White Background]

Please take photos of windows with Green Hearts in them and share on social media with the location using #lowtrafficislington and the green heart 💚

e.g. “Green Heart spotted in Offord Road 💚 #lowtrafficislington

Finally, please share this with your network of: friends; neighbours; parent groups and, especially, schools -after all, schools are at the ‘heart’ of our community.

Thank you for your support.

If you’re not already a member please sign up to our mailing list. If you would like to get more involved or have a clean air issue you would like to campaign for please email islingtoncleanair@gmail.com.

Children Reclaim the Streets

Article by Rachael Swynnerton, featured in Islington Gazette, 22nd December 2022

We all want what’s best for the children in our lives. At Christmas, despite the current cost of living crisis, we all do our best to spoil children with toys and games. But what about something simpler and cheaper? What children need, and want, is the freedom to play in the street. A place to meet friends, walk and cycle outside their home and school whilst breathing clean air and feeling safe.

Since the second world war, children’s freedom to roam has rapidly diminished as motor vehicles have dominated our streets, resulting in a genuine threat to children’s health and safety.

However, across the world, children are re-emerging in our urban streets thanks to campaigners who have argued children should not be consigned to indoor, sedentary lifestyles or have to breathe in toxic air pollution or cross dangerous roads.  Instead, urban planning should put children centre-stage, take their views and experiences seriously, and include clear benefits for them, such as increased opportunities to play and explore.

In Islington, the council are making improvements with their People Friendly Streets scheme, which supports School Streets, playstreets, greening and Liveable Neighbourhoods (LNs). Research from Imperial College shows there are improvements in air quality on roads within Islington LNs and on boundary roads as a result. The Council have made a good start, but the scheme needs to be rolled out further and faster across the borough. Take a walk where you live. Is it pleasant for a child? If not, speak to your local councillor with some positive ideas and suggestions.

 “Join our walks and see the streets through children’s eyes, you’ll be amazed by what you will find. ”

Rachael Swynnerton, co-founder of I Spy Family Walks

Islington Clean Air Parents and Footways have been delighted to share the benefits of walking with families and young children with our very popular Family Friendly I Spy walks. We’ve been celebrating Islington’s new LNs and precious green spaces. It’s been wonderful to see children’s natural energy and curiosity allowed to flourish in streets that are child-friendly.

Join our Islington Clean Air Parents mailing list to find out about our next Family Friendly I Spy walk. Come and see for yourself how Islington is already being transformed with safer, healthier more attractive streets. Now that really is something to celebrate in 2023.

Source: Urban Playground, by Tim Gill

North London COP Climate Festival

On Saturday 12th November Islington Climate Centre, the Islington Tribune and Camden New Journal are taking a positive step to inform, empower and engage with the first ever North London COP, bringing a fantastic range of speakers and thinkers to the historic Conway Hall.

Book a spot for this free event. Tickets for individual talks can be booked separately.

Air pollution and the climate crisis are both caused by the burning of fossil fuels. In London 98 per cent of schools are in areas exceeding World Health Organization pollution limits, compared to 24 per cent outside of London.

As parents and carers, we know how worrying about dirty air and climate change feels. How can we inform ourselves, talk to our children about it, decide what action to take.

There’s no wonder we are fearful when: the High Court ruled the UK Government has breached the Climate Change Act with its inadequate net zero strategy. Little is being done to enable and encourage changes in behaviour, which would allow the UK to meet the necessary climate targets. Our own Prime Minister is now only attending COP after being publicly shamed for his lack of commitment. It’s clear we cannot rely on Government to bring a halt to climate damage. 

Many believe that it is grassroots movements that can build momentum for the change that is so urgently needed. In Greta Thunberg’s speech last month at the Southbank Centre, London, she said: “We have lost decades of communication not getting through due to distraction, delaying and denying.”

Here in North London, in collaboration with the Islington Climate Centre, the Islington Tribune and Camden New Journal are taking a positive step to inform, empower and engage with the first ever North London COP, bringing a fantastic range of speakers and thinkers to the historic Conway Hall – including a dedicated panel on how to speak to children about the climate emergency, without making them fearful.

Psychologist Megan Kennedy-Woodard will offer practical advice, including identifying unhelpful patterns of thinking. This discussion will also include the award-winning film maker Lesley Manning, whose short film, Seven, featured children talking about climate change, as well as ac­claimed author and illustrator Chris Haughton, who will be discussing his work collaborating with scientists to develop the film ‘Message from Antartica’.

“We believe local newspapers have a real, tangible role  in mobilising this kind of collective action, in facilitating debates and discussions and pushing a grassroots effort to tackle the defining challenge of our age,”

The Islington Tribune

ICAP believe everyone can make a difference. We don’t have to invent something new; we just need to get involved. There are many incredible local groups in our boroughs, find out more at the event. 

Greta Thunberg said: “we need millions of activists”.  We hope you will join the conversation on Saturday 12th November, get informed and be inspired. 


Saturday 12th November, 10:30am – 5pm.


What role does the media play in addressing the climate crisis? (11am-12.15pm)
DR NAFEEZ AHMED, Byline Times investigative journalist and systems thinker
JUSTIN ROWLATT, BBC Climate Editor, joining via Zoom live from COP27
BEL JACOBS, former Style Editor at Metro

Lunchtime talk (12.30pm-1.30pm)
Age of Stupid filmmaker FRANNY ARMSTRONG and former Green Party leader Sîan Berry talks to CNJ Chief Reporter DAN CARRIER

Talking with children about climate change (1.45pm-2.45pm)
MEGAN KENNEDY-WOODARD, climate psychologist
CHRIS HAUGHTON, children’s author and illustrator
LESLEY MANNING, “Ghostwatch” and “Seven” film director

Law and direct action: approaches to the climate crisis (3.00-4.00pm)
ROLLIE, STOP HS2 campaigner
JSO activist (TBA)
PAUL POWLESLAND, founder of Lawyers for Nature and barrister
TIM CROSLAND, Plan B Earth director, mounted legal challenge to Heathrow’s third runway

The North London COP 
Saturday 12th November
10:00 – 17:00
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, UK

Book a spot for this free event. Tickets for individual talks can be booked separately.

Conway Hall has wheelchair access and food will be available from the café all day. 

10 ways to reduce air pollution

Find out how you can take positive action to reduce air pollution in Islington

Air pollution is a killer, an estimated 88 deaths were caused by air pollution in Islington last year. Many areas in the borough exceed legal levels and this has a huge effect on our health. Not only does it cause heart disease, strokes, and dementia, small particles of air pollution have been found in the placenta, causing higher rates of miscarriage, asthma and stunting the growth of children’s lungs by up to 10%. But we can all take positive action to reduce air pollution and protect the health of our families and loved ones.

1. Walk, cycle or scoot short journeys such as trips to the shop, school or visiting friends. 38% of car trips in London are under 2 miles and exhaust emissions from road traffic is the largest source of air pollution in Islington. By swapping short car journeys for active travel you will not only be reducing air pollution but the increased active travel will boost your family’s mental and physical wellbeing, and increasing life expectancy.

2. Download a copy of our Islington Clean Air Toolkit for Schools. There’s lots of helpful advice and contacts to help reduce air pollution in and around your child’s school. Islington Clean Air Parents worked in partnership with Islington Council to create this practical and easy to use guide to get you started. www.islingtoncleanairparents.uk/toolkit

3. Hold a play street. You can apply to Islington Council for your road to be closed temporarily or on a regular day of the week or month. Lots of them are happening around the borough, allowing children to play out and create a community spirit. You can apply for your residential street or even hold a school play street.

4. Avoid barbecuing and using wood stoves. Burning wood and charcoal releases fine particulate matter increasing local air pollution for your family and neighbours. Choose electric BBQs, avoid takeaways that cook on charcoal and remove or don’t install a wood burning stove.

5. Plant trees and greenery. Last year, our campaign Forest for Change saw 200 extra trees planted in Islington. You can ask you local councillors to fund tree planting in your street, replace hard surfaces in your front garden with soil and plants, leave your grass to grow and stay organic by not using any pesticides or weed killers.

6. Choose green delivery companies. Look for local companies offering bike deliveries or check they are using Royal Mail to deliver your parcel to avoid diesel fuelled vans road miles. Make sure your delivery company is environmentally responsible and support local campaigns such as NOcado, a parent-led group campaigning against plans to build a diesel-fuelled depot next to Yerbury School in Islington.

7. Heat your home sustainably. Turn your thermostat down to 18 degrees, replace old boilers, look out for the next solar panel buying scheme from Islington Council or consider installing a heat pump, you can currently get a £5000 grant towards the cost.

8. Start a clean air WhatsApp group for your school, work or street. Talk to your neighbours or other parents about your concerns about clean air, invite them to join you and share information. Together you can make a bigger change whether that’s campaigning for a School Street, traffic reduction planting and looking after local trees, and improving your local environment.

9. Reduce Indoor pollution. Cooking is a significant contributor of indoor pollution and can be trapped in your home making pollution worse inside than out. Open windows for an hour a day, ideally early morning or evening to release indoor pollution and refresh oxygen levels.

10. Join Islington Clean Air Parents. Find support from like-minded people and get involved in events and campaigns to improve air quality. Since we started nearly 4 years ago we have held a public Clean Air event at Islington Town Hall, campaigned for School Streets, planted 200 trees in the borough, held clean air play streets, organised regular family walks and are creating a new woodland in the heart of Islington.

You can become a member of Islington Clean Air Parents by signing up for our newsletter. Follow us on twitter, there is a clean air community and lots of helpful information shared. If you’d like to get involved in ICAP please email us islingtoncleanair@gmail.com


Follow us on twitter @air_parents

References: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/air_quality_for_public_health_professionals_-_lb_islington.pdf

*72 deaths in Islington, figure provided by Simon Birkett, Clean Air in London

I Spy Family Walk: Spring

Join us for the next Family Walk on Sunday, 22nd May as we explore Highbury and Islington’s largest nature reserve with a guided tour, I spy game and activities for children to enjoy.

On Sunday 20th March we gathered on a sunny afternoon in Kings Cross for our Spring walk. This was the third in the series of seasonal family walks and part of the Nurture events programme. We began at Camley Street Natural Park, near Kings Cross Station.  It’s spectacular to see that wild green spaces can nestle within even the most urban environment – nature really can flourish when it’s given a chance!

My children and I had the pleasure of planning the I spy game with David and his lovely wife Sarah.  As the walkers arrived, everyone’s excitement grew in anticipation of the afternoon ahead. 

It was my children’s natural curiosity that inspired me to create an I spy scavenger hunt to make walking more interesting. Sharing the idea with more children is a lot of fun, they are so inquisitive and keen to learn. It’s lovely to see their excited smiling faces as they explore local streets, which are now becoming safer and healthier to do through areas with lower traffic. We look forward to seeing more traffic reduction across the borough.

Excited children with clipboards in hand began the jam packed I spy scavenger hunt. We walked along the canal through Lewis Cubitt square and an ornamental gardens. Then a stroll across to Crumbles Castle in Bingfield Park, a wonderful example of the long history of community action to improve the lives of children in Islington.  

 “Walking in Islington is fun! There are lots of unusual things to see, if you look around.”

Louis, age 9

Our next stop was at a more recent community project, Cultivating the Cally, in Freeling Street. In this pocket park, the tarmac has been transformed and instead of being filled with parked cars it has well-cared-for planters and a beautiful piece of public art commissioned by Islington Play Association. Children played in the flower painted street filling the space with absolute joy.

We headed into Barnsbury to take a closer look at the architecture of the West Library and check out the mini-library outside Thornhill School. We found a hidden wood, a secret passageway to Upper Street, lots of spring flowers and blossom trees. 

We finished with a well-earned cup of coffee at the Italian deli, Angel Delicatessen, Cross Street.  Homemade biscuits were quickly snapped up by hungry children before setting off home. One parent commented “My children will sleep well tonight!”.

We noticed a stark contrast along this route. At the start children played, parents relaxed as they enjoyed the freedom and safety of low traffic areas. Suddenly, this was curtailed as we left safer streets behind us and walked through Barnsbury. We walked through several roads: Hemingford, Lofting and Thornhill, where we were suddenly confronted with narrow streets, dominated by vehicles, creating noise, road danger and air pollution. It was a relief to reach Cross Street, the latest People Friendly Street, which was much more pleasant. We hope that safer and healthier streets will be created across Islington very soon.

It was a joy to join Islington Clean Air Parents (and children) in exploring a wonderful new walking route which links King’s Cross with the Cally, Barnsbury and Upper Street. The new zebra crossing on York Way has made a huge difference. We are really looking forward to improvements to Bingfield Park and the path through the Bemerton Estate. 

David Harrison, Footways & Islington Living Streets

Both Living Streets and Islington Clean Air Parents were delighted to share the benefits of walking with families and young children.  Walking is not just about getting around – it’s also a chance to get some exercise; chat with friends and family and enjoy your surroundings. Walking also improves mental health and children’s ability to learn. Streets that are safer and healthier for children to walk, cycle, and scoot are better for everyone. 

Motor vehicle traffic accounts for 50% of air pollution in the borough, which is bad for our health, especially for children because it stunts the growth of their lungs causing life-long health issues.  

However, one-third of journeys are under 2km, which is easily walked by those who are able. Luckily, there is huge potential for walking in Islington and it  plays a significant part in tackling air pollution and climate change. 

Join us for our next family nature walk through Highbury and Islington’s biggest nature reserve.

BOOK NOW! 22nd May 2022, Spring Family Nature Walk

To register for this and other events please follow our Nurture series which we are running in collaboration with Inspiring Sustainable Islington. 

Living School Streets

A new concept for creating clean air hubs in our community that create safe environments for people to walk, cycle and scoot.

Islington Council has successfully implemented 35 school streets across the borough, reducing Nox by up to 83% outside schools. This transformation is radical and shows the opportunity to reduce air pollution further.

The vision for Living School Streets is for local communities to reimagine the street space outside schools and reprioritise usage for the safety of children.

Key stakeholders to include in the vision making include; parents, school, residents, housing associations, the council, local community groups.

Our Vision

Traffic needs to be either filtered or reduced in speed to 5mph. The shape of the street can be altered so drivers need to navigate curves rather than speed on a straight road. The road can be coloured to identify the change of road use.

All parking should be removed to prevent idling and unnecessary car journeys.

The car parking space and zig zag chevrons can be repurposed into rain gardens or planters. Trees and shrub layers planted to attract wildlife into the urban environment.

Street furniture can be changed to be child friendly and replace metal railings with child focussed bollards.

Nearby green space can be opened up to create a natural flow and blend the environments.


Each Living School Street group may want to include all or some of the elements. Funding may be provided by the local council greening fund or the group can access business sponsorship or crowdfund in the community.

Long term

Living School Streets reimagine the purpose of our streets and will demonstrate how we can reimagine our streets everywhere.

I Spy Family Walk: Winter

On Sunday 9th January, we were delighted to that the sun was shining for our Winter Family Walk. We began at Asteys Row Playground in Canonbury and walked to Arlington Square in St Peters. 

Following the success of our Autumn family walk David and I created another interesting walk through hidden walkways and secret routes in St Mary’s before heading to St Peters and along the canal tow path to Arlington Square.

Walking through streets with lower traffic enabled both adults and children to feel safe and able to look around and enjoy their surroundings. We discovered many hidden gems from magnificent ancient trees to contemporary street art, the highlight was visiting a hidden garden in St Mary’s.

 “When I’m walking with my children they always spot interesting things. It was their natural curiosity that inspired me to create scavenger hunts to make walking more fun.”

 Rachael Swynnerton, Islington Clean Air Parents

When our walk came to an end there were lots of smiles and rosy cheeks as we enjoyed some well-deserved hot drinks and biscuits.

For this walk we were keen to create a space for people to come together.  So, with some help from our friends, we gathered at a Parklet. It was lovely to see different generations in conversation while children played games in the local square until twilight. My children certainly had a very memorable afternoon and good night’s sleep!

Walkers gather at a Parklet, St Peters, Islington

Both Living Streets and Islington Clean Air Parents were delighted to share the benefits of walking with families and young children.  Walking is not just about getting around it’s also a chance to get some exercise, chat with friends and family and enjoy your neighbourhood. Walking improves physical and mental health and childrens ability to learn. Walking becomes more enjoyable for all when our neighbourhoods are for people and not dominated by cars.

Motor vehicle traffic accounts for 50% of air pollution in the borough, which is bad for our health especially children, because air pollution stunts the growth of their lungs causing life long health issues.  

However, one third of journeys are under 2km, which is easily walked by those who are able. Luckily, there is huge potential for walking in Islington and it  plays a significant part in tackling air pollution and climate change. 

Join us for our next family walk in Spring. As the seasons change it’s wonderful to see nature comes back to life. We will explore all that nature has to offer in our streets and precious green spaces.

BOOK NOW! 20th March 2022, Spring Family Walk

To register for this and other events please follow our Nurture series which we are running in collaboration with Inspiring Sustainable Islington. 

More events this month include one of our own projects, Forest for Change. Lucy Facer will present ‘How to grow a forest’ on Wednesday 26th January. Register now!

I Spy Family walk: Autumn

We had fantastic afternoon on Sunday 14th November enjoying our family friendly Autumn walk though our precious green spaces and some people-friendly streets in Canonbury and Highbury.  

We were delighted to collaborate with David Harrison from Islington Living Streets and founder of Footways walking routes. He devised this lovely walking route for us and shared his wonderful knowledge of local history along the way.

We met at Willow Bridge Road in Canonbury. The bridge over the New River was pedestrianised some 20-30 years ago to stop it being used as a cut-through. The area is now busy with people walking and cycling.  

My children and I had created an I-Spy scavenger hunt for this walk. We were pleased that it proved to be a huge hit with both children and adults alike.

We began along the New River Walk, a much loved and flourishing green space with lots of wildlife to see.

Parents relaxed and helped their children look at their surroundings. It was wonderful to see how excited they were to learn about nature and history in Islington. 

Children were free to have fun and play.  Despite many of them having only met that day, they had fun trampling through Autumn leaves and helping each other to to spot interesting sights.

“It was a really fun event, which wouldn’t have been possible without local Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.”

Rob Davis, father of two and local resident.

Islington streets have a lot to offer when they are people-friendly. Walking in safer, quieter streets with cleaner air gave us all a real spring in our step.  

We had many requests for more family friendly I-Spy walks, so we are already planning the next one!

Details of our Winter walk coming soon!

Become a member of Islington Clean Air Parents to join our mailing list and find out about upcoming events.

Islington Together: Let’s talk about a greener future

Islington Council launched their Islington Together: Let’s talk about a greener future” festival at Islington Assembly Hall on Monday, 18th October.

I attended the event along with council staff, local campaigners, stakeholders and community groups. This was the start of a series of events to green the borough.

Islington Town Hall Assembly room looked magnificent with trees from Islington Forest on display for the event. They looked beautiful and healthy, ready for planting later in the month and the perfect symbol of our Forest for Change project to green the borough together.

Cllr Rowena Champion thanked the council tree service and Islington Clean Air Parents for the collaborative efforts on the Islington Forest for Change project, and added “the massive energy from Islington Clean Air Parents should be replicated in the future. We look forward to working with ICAP going forward.” She also said,  “we can turn the grey (concrete) to green, it costs much more to put trees in roads but we are going to have to do it because we are running out of space.”

“the massive energy from Islington Clean Air Parents should be replicated in the future.

Cllr Rowena Champion, Executive Member for Environment and Transport

Islington Forest of Change trees on display.

A series of speeches began with Council Leader, Kaya Comer-Schwartz, she provided context for the programme of events. The council have declared a climate emergency and committed to being net zero by 2030.  They recognise it’s a huge challenge but one that must be undertaking to address inequality in the borough and improve life expectancy. Islington is one of the most densely populated boroughs in England and Wales. It is triple the London average and 37 times more than the national average with a very high level of child poverty.

She gave an overview of the four areas they are focusing on: transport, building infrastructure, natural environment and waste.  On transport the Leader acknowledged that air pollution has reached dangerous levels and that lowest income families are worse effected. I was pleased to hear her confirm they are dedicated to taking decisive action to reduce air pollution with their People Friendly Streets programme and that they recognise the need to work with everyone in the borough to achieve their aims.

Next up was Cllr Rowena Champion who explained why Climate Change is the the biggest challenge Islington will face going forward.

Islington is the 6th London borough most vulnerable to climate change according to the GLA Risk of Climate Change report. The borough is very dense and has a lot of concrete, this coupled with increased extreme heat events and surface water flooding will have a huge impact. She said, “climate change is a global problem but it’s also a real problem for Islington now.”

She spoke about the sources of carbon emission, to address this the council are working on a decarbonising plan, looking at retrofitting buildings, district heat networks, green economy and they have a number of initiatives including a ‘library of things’, a borrowing service opening soon.

It was great to hear that Cllr Champion is determined to change the way people move around the streets to improve people’s health and wellbeing, she said they want to reimagine our public space: make them in to play spaces for children, to make them greener and make them healthier.” We have some great ideas for this! Check out our campaigns.

David Harrison, chair of Islington Living Streets and co-founder of Footways walking maps explained that behaviour change is required but it’s difficult for public health campaigns to have an impact with the scale of car advertising with car-centric messaging.

Traffic is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases. There is huge potential for walking in Islington it plays a significant part in tackling Climate Change. One third of journeys are under 2km which is easily walked. 

David said “If you’re thinking of ways to combat climate change I suggest go for a walk!” What a wonderful suggestion.

He proposed monitoring walking patterns, greening, rain gardens placed in roads instead of cars. Go for carshare not ownership. Low traffic neighbourhoods do have a positive effect, he encouraged the council to keep going with the fantastic People Friendly Streets! ICAP agree!

David concluded, providing more pro-pedestrian infrastructure enables behaviour change and makes public health campaigns relevant. “Let’s use these new attractive people friendly routes for safer and healthier daily walks with Footways map!” 

ICAP love them, not only can these routes provide attractive and more pleasant ways to get around our city but more importantly walking on quieter streets with fewer cars reduces the impact of air pollution caused by traffic.

Rosie Kurnaz, Islington Young Mayor, representing the youth council. She said, “young people are fighting for their voices to be heard, they often feel disregarded and ignored. They want to be part of creating change and making an impact on climate change. 

Collective action is key and has a huge impact but that all starts with an individual action which snowballs, i.e. encouraging young people to walk to school will have multiple benefits for them and their environment. Young people need to be part of the solutions because they are going to be the ones who live with consequences of the actions taken today. She and other young people are committed to holding the council to account to insure they act on their promises.

MP, Jeremy Corbyn gave a short overview of Islington’s history in making the borough more sustainable. He reminded some of the audience of the 1992 Rio Climate Summit, which he said was a turning point in history. Islington council recongnised that and so set up a climate committee called ‘Agenda 2021’, which he chaired. They examined council services for environmental sustainability and worked on community engagement. In May 2019 he proposed a motion to parliament, which resulted in it making a declaration that we were facing a climate emergency. It was the first parliament in the world to make that declaration.

He said “Unless we realise and the whole world understands there is a climate emergency little will be achieved.” He said he would be attending COP26 and demonstrations on the 6th November to show that people are very concerned about the climate emergency, however, he said “being ‘very concerned’ doesn’t cut it and doesn’t bring about the changes that are necessary, it is about practical steps to bring about a green industrial revolution.” This means engaging with existing polluting industries to become more environmentally sustainable. They need support to guarantee the jobs of their workforces in order to make the transition.

We need to look at our use of nature and natural resources in our daily lives. We may know that we should buy sustainable products, but that can be expensive. He said: “Surely, we need to legislate for environmentally sustainable food and manufacturing from the beginning rather than leave it to those who can afford it.”

It was fantastic to hear that the council are committed to some ambitious goals and initiatives and that they recognise that in order to achieve these goals they need to work with the whole community. Thankfully, there are many people in the borough with valuable knowledge, skills and creative thinking who are willing to get involved.  Islington Clean Air Parents for one look forward to working in partnership with the council again soon for a cleaner and greener borough.

The event closed with a short Q&A, which only scratched the surface, clearly there is a lot to talk about. If you have questions and ideas feed them back to the council by engaging with consultations and developments. Join a local community group, become and ICAP member here, we’d love to hear your ideas!

More information about Islington council’s vision can be found in Building a Net Zero Carbon Islington by 2030.