Imported Image

Photo caption: (L-R) Dr Alison Cook, Chair of Taskforce for Lung Health, Birmingham resident Andy Bright and Dr Davinder Dosanjh, Respiratory Consultant in the West Midlands, pictured at St Paul’s Square in the Jewellery Quarter - voted one of the top five breathing spaces in Birmingham in a recent survey for Taskforce for Lung Health

A new survey has revealed that Birmingham Botanical Gardens is the most popular place in Birmingham for local people to ‘take a breath’ and connect with their lungs.

The survey, commissioned by Taskforce for Lung Health, invited local residents to name their favourite city location where they can enjoy their own breathing space, as part of a brand-new awareness campaign around lung health.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, a 15-acre garden in Edgbaston, was the most popular choice with 21% of the vote. This was followed by city locations Cannon Hill Park (19%), canal-side at Mailbox (17%), Winterbourne Gardens (10%) and St Paul’s Square (10%).

And today (Monday 23 August), people from across the city came together at St Paul’s Square to celebrate the top five breathing spaces and call on residents to show their support. The campaign is encouraging people in Birmingham to pause and ‘take a breath’ for five minutes this Friday (27 August) and appreciate the vital role our lungs play.

Taskforce for Lung Health is encouraging people in the city to look after their lungs, as well as increase their understanding of the challenges faced by the 1 in 5 people in the UK who live with lung disease. People take on average 25,000 breaths a day, and yet good lung health is something that can often be taken for granted.

It is estimated that over 55,000 people in Birmingham & Solihull and Sandwell & West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - a group of lung conditions that causes breathing difficulties. Both areas are in the top fifth of CCGs in the country for prevalence of the condition.

Dr Alison Cook, Chair of Taskforce for Lung Health, said:

“We’re encouraging people in Birmingham to take a moment to think about and appreciate their lung health. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many of us to reflect on the importance of taking a breath and the feeling of being able to breathe freely - something that can often be taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

“We want to highlight that this simple action can be a real challenge for the 1 in 5 people in the UK who live with a lung condition, and that action must be taken to help improve the treatment, care and quality of life for every person affected.”

The survey revealed that 58% of respondents have paused to ‘take a breath’ more often during the COVID-19 pandemic, with people’s most popular reasons being to relax (43%) and clear their head (38%).

Having peace and quiet (40%) and clean air (27%) were voted the most important elements to have in a breathing space, with 44% of respondents being more aware of their lung health when they do pause to ‘take a breath’ in the city.

However, the survey highlighted that there is still a wider lack of awareness around lung health, with only one fifth (21%) being able to correctly state that 1 in 5 people in the UK will be diagnosed with lung disease in their lifetime. And only 8% of respondents were aware that 700,000 hospital admissions in the UK are linked to lung disease each year.

Dr Alison Cook continued:

“Our results showed that nearly half the people who took the survey never think about their lung health, which is worrying when we consider the prevalence of lung conditions across the UK, and particularly in large cities such as Birmingham. The city ranks in the bottom 10% for air quality levels across Britain, which means that those living in Birmingham are more likely to have poor lung health.

“Our mission is to help improve the nation’s lung health and highlight the action needed to ensure good lung health for all. We hope that people across Birmingham will feel inspired to pause and ‘take a breath’ in one of the top five breathing spaces and show their solidarity with the tens of thousands of people in the city who are living with a lung condition. It’s time to make good lung health a priority for us all.”

Andy Bright, 57 from Bearwood in Birmingham, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2013. In 2018, he received a double lung transplant which saved his life.

Andy said: “I was diagnosed with IPF in June 2013, after experiencing breathlessness and undergoing many years of tests. Following four years of oxygen therapy, my lung function had dropped to just 21%. In September 2018, my wife and I celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary, expecting it to be our last. But just 12 days later, I received a lung transplant which saved my life.

“Thanks to my organ donor, I can now plan for the future. I cherish every day and have been able to experience moments I never thought would be possible - such as walking my daughter down the aisle on her wedding day and seeing the birth of my latest grandchild. I’m determined to live every day to the fullest and every breath is a bonus. I hope that by sharing my story I can help increase awareness of the daily challenges faced by those living with a lung condition.”

To find out more about the Taskforce for Lung Health ‘Take a Breath’ campaign, and how you can get involved, visit or follow the hashtag #BreatheInBrum.