Graduate Story:

Angela Fonso

Angela campaigns for cleaner air in London. She got into campaigning because she has two young children and was concerned about what emissions from asphalt in her local area will do to their health.

My name is Angela and I live in Southall, an area which is affected by noxious fumes caused by a substance called asphalt or bitumen. Asphalt is manufactured with FM Conway, a company that has been associated with massive health impacts, including the worsening of asthma symptoms.

FM Conway opened a plant in my local area in 2014, and residents have complained to local councils about the fumes, strong odour, and health problems which we believe are linked to air pollution from the site.

I got into campaigning because I have two young children and was concerned about what FM Conway emissions will do to their health. Seeing my children having to live and play in the area affected by these emissions galvanised me to take action, so in 2017 I started the Insistent Residents Against Toxic Emissions (IRAT) campaign.

Not having campaigned or worked in the cleaner air space before, I decided to apply to Bootcamp to learn more about campaign strategy and building a network. Bootcamp helped me to give clarity to what I am trying to achieve – I particularly benefitted from the sessions on aims, objectives, and tactics, and left with a clearer strategy and a renewed energy for my campaign.

Since Bootcamp, I have engaged with journalists, my local MP, and councillors, to present them the results of my petition against FM Conway. The fight is not over yet, and it’s petition is constantly growing!

One local supporter said: ‘when the westerly wind blows, the sickening smell of tar is overpowering and forces us to close our windows in hit weather. My two year old son has had three hospital admissions for asthmatic episodes, is constantly coughing, and rubbing itchy eyes. Maybe not caused by the emissions, but certainly triggering it and making it worse.’

As campaigners, we sometimes tend to be responsible for a lot of issues. We want to act immediately and do everything we can to better society. Campaign Bootcamp taught me about the importance of having a support network around me to share the workload. Meeting activists from different fields was such a valuable experience for me. I met people from across the UK and I was able to learn from their campaigns and tell them more about mine!

It’s time for new campaigners to join me in the fight against pollution and to create a better environment – that’s why I’m urging environmental and clean air campaigners to apply to the next Bootcamp!

 

You can support Angela’s petition here: www.change.org/p/hillingdon-and-ealing-councils-hillingdon-and-ealing-councils-force-fm-conway-plant-in-hayes-to-improve-odour-control-measures

Angela Fonso

I have lots of resilience and resolve to drive forward a campaign to get the London Borough of Hillingdon to take regulatory action against a local asphalt plant who is contributing an unacceptable level of pollution in an area where the air quality is poor.