"What you see when you open your curtains in a morning determines everything..., how you feel about the place where you stay, how you feel about yourself, whether you have the self-confidence and motivation to go to work, whether you let the kids out to play; indeed, whether you even get up in the morning."
I had the great privilege today to talk to an audience, on a national platform, about a subject I feel passionate about - the right of every person to live in an environment that is good and makes them feel good. Too many of our communities, particularly here in Central Scotland where we've raped and pillaged the environment to support our modern lifestyles, have been left with degraded environments, derelicts sites and deprived lives.
It is no coincidence that our least successful communities are located in our worst areas. It is no coincidence that our areas of lowest health are in these areas. If people have access to good quality green space, they are 24% more likely to be physically active. 37% of coronary heart disease is coronary heart disease is linked with low levels of physical activity. 33% of businesses cite environmental quality as a key factor in relocation decisions. 80% of Scotland's vacant and derelict sites lie in Central Scotland. 9% of the population in Central Scotland is unemployed, compared with a Scottish average of 4%. 88% of Scotland's most deprived areas are in Central Scotland. You do the maths!
If that doesn't convince you of the need to do something, I don't know what will. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to get involved and play my part. I get to talk about the issues and raise awareness. I get to argue and debate and seek to influence change. I may not have the physical time to do things myself, but I have the ability to make it easier for others.
I also have the responsibility. I've had the privileges. It's only fair that I use them to put something back in. I do the work I do because I think it's important to try to make a difference. I sometimes wonder if I'm really achieving anything. Days like today make it all worthwhile!