Mark Fishpool, Director, Middlesbrough Environment: Sustainability through activity

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Working closely with You’ve Got This, Middlesbrough Environment City director, Mark Fishpool, is using activity to create a more sustainable society.

Tackling local issues

In his role as director at Middlesbrough Environment City (MEC), Mark Fishpool oversees the general management of the charity, as well as its strategic partnerships of which You’ve Got This is one. 

As one of the people who wrote the original proposal and expression of interest for You’ve Got This, Mark has been a long time champion of the movement and its ambitions. 

“Middlesbrough Environment City is a charity focussed on healthy and sustainable living and the links between sustainability and healthy living are massive. A physically active population can be a sustainable population. Working with You’ve Got This is a chance for us to bring together two key themes that we need to tackle in South Tees — the climate crisis and obesity.”

Activity and sustainability 

Mark and his team are working with You’ve Got This on several initiatives that allow communities to be active and live more sustainably, including:  

“The project is about encouraging families to get together and increase their physical activity. But it has other benefits too, such as engaging children in non-classroom based learning and providing socially distanced activities, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Taking a holistic approach

A common thread running through each of the projects that Mark and his team have worked on with You’ve Got This is a holistic approach to activity; addressing the complex issues that stop people being active. 

“Supporting people to be physically active is more complex than simply giving them an opportunity. Giving someone a bike doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to be able to cycle, for example. There are barriers. People lead busy and complex lives. We need to look at supporting them in other ways, such as providing debt advice or solutions to building activity around childcare, family commitments and shift work.” 

Promoting the movement

Outside of his work on You’ve Got This projects, Mark works to actively support the movement on a daily basis. 

“I’m always promoting You’ve Got This in one way or another. Whether it’s cycling to and from work every day in my You’ve Got This ambassador shirt, or talking to other partnerships, such as the food partnership, about how the movement can link into the work we’re doing in those areas.”

Combating climate change with activity

Looking at the long-term picture, Mark believes You’ve Got This can play an important role in the development of climate action strategies for South Tees. 

“We need to talk about physical activity in terms of reducing carbon emissions and creating a more sustainable planet. Getting people walking and cycling more are obvious solutions but things like creating more allotments and bringing existing allotments up to standard so people can grow their own food and be active in that way, are valuable too. I think, together, MEC and You’ve Got This are well placed to create change and put activity at the centre of the fight against the climate crisis.”

Personal gains

Working closely with You’ve Got This has also helped Mark focus more on his active lifestyle. 

“I’ve certainly become a keener cyclist since I’ve been involved with You’ve Got This. I’m doing more gardening at home and work too. I created a garden at the office and planted seeds so I can go out at lunchtimes and do some weeding and watering.” 

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