At Fields in Trust, not only do we protect and support outdoor spaces, we are also very keen to see parks and playing fields well-used by the communities they serve. Our Have a Field Day programme helps to activate the spaces we protect; almost 300 events this year have seen more than 60,000 people take park in community activities in parks and playing fields across the UK. Ensuring a green space is well used by its community is a sure way to safeguard its future.
We have written before about the impact of growing obesity issues and the fact that access to green spaces can have a positive impact on health. Places that have a high proportion of green space tend to have populations with better physical health and mental wellbeing. The availability of green spaces in urban environments is also associated with reducing health inequalities that are linked to deprivation.
So we are delighted to report on the work of one our partner organisations, Proludic who aim to get over one million people more active by 2020, through using its range of outdoor fitness equipment. Recently over 100 pieces of Proludic equipment at fifteen neighbourhood sites have been made available for up to 146,000 Knowsley residents. Each of these sites are accessible and located within ten minutes walking distance from residents homes, some were located in the most deprived areas of Knowsley, enabling all residents free and equal access to high quality fitness equipment outdoors, and importantly - having fun whilst getting fitter.
Knowsley Council committed to a community wide investment in outdoor green gyms to improve overall health and activity levels. Key to success was the strong partnership with Public Health, NHS and Park Rangers. This was supported with personal trainers working closely with local residents and partners. Knowsley's community health development team ran a 10-week pilot at two sites with the main one being at Jubilee Park, protected by Fields in Trust. The successful pilot saw 90% of residents turn up each week, and around 75% still exercising as a group after the project ended.
This is a good example of a partnership between the local council – the health service and local residents to develop a "More Active Nation". Crucially these green gyms need an outdoor location such as a park or playing field to locate the equipment.