The Fields in Trust submission to last year's Parliamentary Inquiry into the Future of Public Parks called for a change in the way public green space is conceived, not simply as a drain on spending that requires a considerable amount of money to maintain - but rather as an asset which can be deployed to achieve longer-term savings and happier, healthier more connected communities. We endorse the recommendation that councils should work with their local health and wellbeing boards to develop a green space strategy.
The CLG Committee's Inquiry accepted the overwhelming body of evidence that parks are beneficial to communities – but recommended that more work is needed to specify the real value of their contribution to wider public agendas. So at Fields in Trust we wanted to be certain of the link and the value that parks and green space contribute to health and wellbeing of our communities.
We have commissioned new research to directly address the Inquiry question; Jump X Simetrica undertake social cost benefit analyses for UK government departments, the EU and UN. Their early stage work has found evidence to suggest a positive association and statistically significant link between green space exposure and health and wellbeing in the Defra, Natural England and Forestry Commission MENE dataset (Monitoring Engagement with the Natural Environment).
The data suggests that proximity to, and more frequent use of, local green space produces corresponding increases in health and wellbeing scores across all four of the Office of National Statistics wellbeing indicators (life satisfaction, sense of worth, happiness and anxiety) along with general health.
Visiting every day produces the highest wellbeing scores but the research suggests the optimum use of green space is at least once a week as this gives us 65% of the health and wellbeing benefits rated across the four Office of National Statistics indicators.
In summary more trips to more parks more often is good for the health and wellbeing of UK residents.
The completion of our research in the autumn will identify a robust economic and monetary value for these health benefits to help make the case to local councils and governments of the value our parks contribute to our communities.
But health and economic value aside, deep down we all know that green spaces are incredibly valuable, that's why communities are coming together on Saturday 8th July at Have a Field Day events across the UK to celebrate our parks and green spaces.