Residents in Edinburgh are the latest to feel the benefits of Fields in Trust's Active Spaces programme. Two green spaces have been protected in perpetuity by The City of Edinburgh Council under the scheme, taking the total number of protected spaces in the capital to 34, covering some 375 hectares.
Little France Park, in the south east of the city, and West Pilton Park, in the north, have both been secured in perpetuity as Active Spaces, also receiving £5,000 activation grants as part of the programme, funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust. The successes of the activation sessions at West Pilton Park are being furthered with a new outdoor gym recently installed thanks to a £25,000 capital grant from the Active Spaces programme.
Situated in the Granton area of the city, West Pilton Park is located close to two large housing schemes and the area faces a range of issues including poverty, unemployment and high levels of ill-health. Figures from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation rank the area in the most challenged 5% with problems of drug taking, alcohol, depression and obesity highlighted.
The Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust worked with the local community to deliver activities which connect people and break down social isolation, in addition to providing physical health benefits. Women's boxercise and fitness sessions have been delivered in addition to a walking programme aimed at those less mobile, with 18% of participants previously inactive and 23.5% citing injury or ill health as a barrier to physical activity previously.
The core group of participants in the sessions have continued to exercise at the park and the recent addition of new outdoor gym equipment through the Active Spaces capital grant will ensure the positive benefits already felt through the programme can continue long into the future, enabling groups to meet for exercise in their own time and at no cost.
Welcoming the new equipment, member of the Friends of West Pilton Park, Sara Martin, said: "The local residents are delighted with the new facilities. The new outdoor gym is so much more interesting, with lots of exciting new equipment to try out and enjoy".
Similar activation sessions, meanwhile, are taking place at Little France Park in the south east of the city. The newly created park is located in an area facing similar issues of poverty, unemployment and ill-health to the Granton area and sessions are focusing around jogging and walking activities to encourage greater long-term use of green spaces for exercise by local residents.
Discussing the project at West Pilton Park, Chief Grants Officer for The London Marathon Charitable Trust, Sarah Ridley, said: "Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has funded a huge range of projects which have inspired millions of people to get active. Delivered in partnership with Fields in Trust, Active Spaces is our first nationwide funding initiative. We are delighted to fund this important project at West Pilton Park and to support Edinburgh City Council to deliver it. The site will be permanently protected, and new facilities provided through a grant from The Trust, enabling local people to enjoy the benefits of physical activity into the future".
Scotland Manager of Fields in Trust, Colin Rennie, said: "We know that parks and green spaces contribute to health and wellbeing; people enjoy greater life satisfaction including both improved physical and mental health, directly as a result of regularly using parks and green spaces. We congratulate Edinburgh City Council on this award which will contribute to a happier and healthier local community able to enjoy West Pilton Park in perpetuity".
The Active Spaces programme is securing 50 spaces across the UK and providing activation grants to help local communities be more active. West Pilton Park is one of four spaces to also receive a £25,000 capital grant award, funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust. As part of this funding, a trim trail has recently opened at The People's Park in Ballymena, whilst Gelligaled Park in Rhonda Cynon Taf and Halewood Park in Knowsley are also benefitting from capital investment.
The City of Edinburgh Council first protected green space with Fields in Trust in 1939, creating a King George V Playing Field in South Queensferry in memory of his late Majesty. In 2012 and 2013 the authority protected 25 spaces as Queen Elizabeth Fields in celebration of HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, whilst the latest protections as part of the Active Spaces programme brings to 34 the number of green spaces across the city which are protected in perpetuity.
Further information on the Active Spaces programme can be found here.
How to Protect: Find out the protection process and about our Deed of Dedication
Green Spaces for Good: Green spaces are good, do good and need to be protected for good
Have a Field Day: Host a party or a picnic in your park this July
Research: Revaluing parks and green spaces