In the latest in our series of blogs, Fields in Trust calls for us to love our local parks this summer.
A warm sun shining down. Grass tickling the backs of your arms as you gaze up into the blue sky. The distance jingle of an ice-cream van and the laughter of children at play. Perhaps the occasional whack of leather on willow and ripple of approving applause. Maybe there's a lapping of water in a nearby lake. A background of chatter as people run, cycle, stroll and relax in their tranquil surroundings. The quintessential British summer's afternoon at your local park.
Our parks and green spaces are the most universal of our public services. We use them throughout our lives, as toddlers being pushed around in prams all the way through to pensioners taking a walk to stay active.
Yet people often don't realise there is no statutory requirement to provide these vital community spaces. So in these times of austerity it is increasingly important we stand up for our parks and green spaces. To champion them. To demonstrate what they are really worth to us.
This summer, Fields in Trust hope you will join us doing just that. On Saturday 8th July, head out to your local park and Have a Field Day.
Put simply, Have a Field Day is a celebration of our parks and green spaces and the many ways they serve our communities. What will people be doing? Well, the list is as long as the number of things you can do in a park! Some Have a Field Day events will be big established events - local fetes or summer festivals which bring together user groups, entertainment, sport and more - but the vast majority will be much smaller events, meaning it's really easy for you to get involved.
A picnic is a great way to enjoy what your local park has to offer. All you need to do is buy some provisions, head down to the park on Saturday 8th July with (or without!) a blanket and enjoy an afternoon in amongst nature. Invite some friends to come along and have a picnic as well and soon you'll have a fantastic afternoon set. Don't forget to let us know you'll be Having a Field Day!
I've worked on the Have a Field Day programme for three years now and love hearing people's stories of the impact their events had - bringing communities together, introducing people to new sports or activities, helping people get to know their local park and all it has to offer.
A park isn't just for Have a Field Day, however. People use their parks every day of the year come rain or shine. Why? Well who better than Fields in Trust Ambassador Bill Bryson to sum it up: "Britain has the comeliest, most enchanting, abundant and often venerable parks and green spaces of any country I know. Wherever you are, you are never more than a few minutes from woods, greensward and fresh air. How splendid is that?" How splendid indeed!
Over half of the UK population (57%) regularly use parks each month. If you're reading this I have no doubt you are one of them. Perhaps you are one of thousands across the UK who join parkrun events every Saturday morning, or part of the network of volunteers who work so hard to ensure our green spaces are resplendent all year round. As part of Have a Field Day, we want to know why you #LoveYourLocalPark. Tweet us with your reason using the hashtag. Post a picture of your favourite spot in your local park, or even a video explaining why it is so special to you!
From Aberdeen to Exeter, from Carlisle to London, across the UK - we want to know why the nation loves its local parks. Let's celebrate them with Have a Field Day this summer.
After all, they might not always remain the green, tranquil places we have all created so many memories in. The Heritage Lottery Fund's State of UK Public Parks 2016 report found that 92% of park managers report cuts to their revenue budget over the past three years. A similar number expect further cuts over the next three years.
Our parks and green spaces are at a critical juncture. We must stand up for them now, demonstrate why we love them and why we need them. Once they are gone they are gone forever.
Fields in Trust work to secure these vital spaces - forever - so that they will always be places to come together and enjoy life experiences. Currently we protect over 2,600 sites across the UK covering 30,000 acres. There's a good probability there's a space near you.
This summer, take a moment to show your local park some love. Join a movement of park users across the UK celebrating their local green spaces with Have a Field Day.