Local parks and green spaces have been there for us all during 2020. In our latest staff blog our Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, introduces how we are collaborating with our good friends at parkrun to celebrate the many ways parks have been valuable to us this year and explore how they are #notjust green and pleasant nice-to-haves.
We know our parks are precious and, this year, they have proved more precious than ever. During lockdown a daily walk through a local green space was a lifeline for many of us. Not just exercise and fresh air, but a chance to reflect and recharge - for our mental wellbeing as well as our physical health.
We may have taken our local parks for granted before, but now we see just how valuable they are to us, to our friends and to our neighbours. No longer at the bottom of the pile of priorities, parks remain the only place to meet loved ones and connect with our communities.
Parks are at the heart of our communities; places to remain socially connected whilst physically distanced. They give us space to come together to run, relax, think and play, and right now we are realising how much we love them and how important it is to protect them for future generations to enjoy. We don't want to lose them. We want to embrace them.
We want to get back to parkrun, picnics, five-a-side, boot camp and taking the kids to the swings. After a year such as this we recognize more than ever that doing parkrun on a Saturday morning is not just ticking the exercise box - it's making friends and building our communities. A trip to the playground is not just to entertain the kids - it's precious family time for all of us and the moments we will look back on and treasure. A walk in the park isn't just to get out of the house for a while - it's a chance to connect with the local nature on our doorsteps. But whatever we are using our parks for be it sport, play or the opportunity to be outside it is safe to say that these spaces are good, they do good and they deserve to be protected for good.
"If there's one thing to lift our spirits, it's being outside in the open air, being connected to nature and moving our bodies. We need parks more than ever before and this means taking steps to protect, value and, importantly, celebrate them. We are proud to join hands with Fields in Trust to do just that, and would like to encourage everyone to get involved by sharing what your park means to you and the wonderfully diverse and amazing ways you have been using them over the past year. Together we can make sure that parks are here for us, and for all those who follow in our footsteps".
Chrissie Wellington, parkrun's Global Head of Health and Wellbeing
None of the many things we all enjoy will be possible if our parks no longer exist. This year and the pandemic will pass and eventually these temporary restrictions will lift, but some of our precious green spaces will be lost. Not just temporarily but permanently. Forever. This is not fair - it's not just. Parks and green spaces are a universal public service used by the whole community from pre-school children to retired adults, but they are not equally distributed across the UK. We need to cherish the precious parks close to home, value them for the health and wellbeing benefits they deliver and protect their future.
We want to show how much we care about our parks and their future, in our joint campaign with parkrun we are inviting park users to share with us what you love about your local parks and green spaces. Tell us your story, send us a selfie or record a video letting us know how you have been using your local park. Parks have been good to us this year - so let's celebrate and value them.
Helen Griffiths is Fields in Trust's Chief Executive. She can be contacted by any of the below means.
t: 0207 427 2110
Helen Griffiths is Fields in Trust's Chief Executive and is an experienced and knowledgeable commentator on issues related to parks, playing fields and recreational spaces. Follow Helen on Twitter @hegriffiths.