Talented GOSH patients bring environmental issues to life for NHS Sustainability Day

A 62 metre long artwork created by patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) was the star attraction at the GOSH Sustainability Fair in celebration of NHS Sustainability Day.

Artwork with ribbon in shot Bella & Sion ribbon cutting

Depicting the journey that GOSH needs to take to become a more sustainable hospital in the future, the awe-inspiring piece was created by the House of Illustration using drawings by over 100 children and young people produced at a series of workshops at the hospital earlier this year.

The aim of the project was to find an accessible way to help children and young people understand complex sustainability issues, consider how they are relevant to them in their own lives and explore ideas for making GOSH more sustainable. It was also intended to communicate the importance of sustainability to anyone who works in or visits GOSH and has been installed in a main thoroughfare for maximum visibility.

The artwork explores how GOSH could be more sustainable today, imagining lush rooftop gardens, beehives and animals for self-sufficiency. It also suggests innovative ways to integrate high-tech renewable energy sources and harness telehealth technologies so that patients, families and carers can connect with staff without creating unnecessary journeys to hospital.

Isobel Manning is head of the hospital’s arts programme, GO Create! and worked with the hospital’s sustainability team and illustrator Sion Ap Tomos to deliver a series of workshops for patients in wards, outpatients and the Children’s Hospital School.

She said: “The magical thing about working with children is that they can engage with new ideas imaginatively and without the caveats and restrictions of adult perception. They really let their imaginations run wild on this project, creating both playful and practical solutions to some of our major environmental challenges.”

GOSH patient Safiya, 9, attended the drawing workshops at the Sustainability fair and created her own sustainable garden picture inspired by the artwork complete with beehives, animals and a vegetable patch. She also worked with our team to design a renewable energy umbrella complete with solar panels and a waterwheel!

GOSH postcards Blogpost1 Safiya and mum by pledge wall

Safiya’s mum, Shammin said: “The artwork is amazing! It’s really important for GOSH to listen to children and families when they are thinking of ways to improve things and I love the way the piece is totally child-centred to reflect that. I have suggested that GOSH could look at ways to cut back on the number of journeys families make into hospital by scheduling appointments on the same day and maybe even co-ordinating transport for those who live close to each other.”

Matthew Tulley, Director of Redevelopment at GOSH attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to thank the children who helped create the artwork and present them with a commemorative booklet of their work.

He said: “Climate change is one of the most significant global health threats of this century and a poor environment, particularly poor air quality, can have a serious impact on child health. This project was an important educational experience for the children and young people involved, but it has also created a lasting reminder to the GOSH community of our collective responsibility to “tread lightly”, limiting our environmental footprint to provide the best possible future for our children.”

The GOSH Sustainability Fair also marked the launch of a new online platform (carbonculture.net/gosh) to connect anyone in the GOSH community who cares about the environment and allow them to share their ideas about how to make GOSH more sustainable. More than 80 sustainability pledges were received from GOSH staff and visitors, which will be uploaded to the platform to kick-start a campaign to identify the best ways to make GOSH more sustainable and stimulate decision-making and activities that will implement change.

Energy Manager Brendan Rouse said: “I hope today’s activities will stimulate a debate across our hospital community and inspire our staff and visitors to consider any small changes they can make every day to help protect the environment. We have made great progress already, and the fantastic go-green efforts of our staff have just been recognised by 3 major awards organisers. This is a powerful motivator which will help us build momentum for the campaign so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we get lots of votes to bring one of the awards home to GOSH!”

Notes to editors
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust is the country’s leading centre for treating sick children, with the widest range of specialists under one roof.

With the UCL Institute of Child Health, we are the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US and play a key role in training children’s health specialists for the future.

Our charity needs to raise vital funds every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. With your help we provide world class care to our very ill children and their families.

About GO Create!
GO Create! is the arts programme at Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH). It makes a vital contribution to the healing environment and hospital experience we provide for our patients, visitors and staff, creating relaxing, engaging and child-friendly surroundings and supporting creativity and learning through a wide range of activities and events.