Client Success Story: Tackling Air Pollution

Back in March, I was asked to write the resources for the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day (NCAD), which took place on June 15th. More than 50 organisations (including councils, charities, universities, hospitals and NHS trusts) came together to set up the day. UPDATE!! I’ve just heard (24/11/17) that National Clean Air Day won the ‘Air Quality Communications Initiative of the Year Award’ at a spangly do in London last night! Back to the blog…


I worked directly with Global Action Plan, the UK arm of Global Action Plan International, an environmental-change charity based in London who co-ordinated things.


Air pollution is a huge problem in the UK and causes around 40,000 premature deaths every year.

But unlike other major public health issues, little is known about it. Many of us don’t know what causes air pollution, how we can create less or how to protect ourselves from the serious effects it has on our health.

There’s a lot of misinformation around too, so NCAD was designed to educate people and give them the facts. Just as one quick example, did you know that you’re exposed to more air pollution sitting in a car in traffic than when you’re walking or cycling along a street? Neither did I.


I was tasked with writing and copy-editing a range of resources for the NCAD website, including web pages, factsheets, tips, downloadable toolkits and lesson plans, as well as writing a leaflet and three posters for events and information stands.


To write copy that was accessible to all age groups and would engage and educate the public without dumbing down the issues or misrepresenting the research findings.


  • To get people to download the toolkits and use them at work, school and in their local communities
  • To encourage teachers to use the lesson plans with their pupils
  • To get people talking about air pollution and telling others about it
  • To reach at least 2 million people on social media
  • To support people to run their own events and take part in the #noidling campaign


  • Over 1000 toolkits were downloaded
  • More than 200 events took place around the UK on the day
  • NCAD trended on Twitter for 5 hours, reaching 38 million people
  • Air pollution was the first item of business in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 15th June thanks to Mark Ruskell, MSP
  • There were reports about NCAD on the ITV, Birmingham Mail, Dundee Telegraph, Edinburgh Reporter and Derby Telegraph websites, and in lots of other local news
  • And features in The Sun, The Times, The Guardian, Mail Online and The Weather Channel Geographical

In Derby (where I’m based), both the City Council and County Council got involved. There was an information event, people were showcasing electric cars in the city centre, and lots of people made pledges to take action and create less air pollution. The Royal Derby Hospital and tens of schools and local businesses did their bit too to tell people about the dangers of air pollution and how to avoid them.


In spite of the news being dominated by the General Election, two shocking terrorist attacks and the hideous tower block fire in London in the run-up to NCAD, and government departments being in purdah when they were supposed to be getting involved, it was a huge success!

Thousands – if not millions – of people found out more about air pollution and that can only be a good thing. It was an honour to be part of such a brilliant campaign.

Thanks so much for your help, dropping in to a hectic situation and managing to get through so much work so quickly. You’re a star!

– Chris Large, Senior Partner, Global Action Plan

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