In 2018 we announced the latest group of projects to be awarded grants from the Rethinking Parks fund. In this round, we were looking for organisations and partnerships who were well placed to replicate and adapt the most promising approaches to help run parks more sustainably, drawing from what they had seen others implement or test elsewhere
Five months on, Sue Sanctuary from the Natural History Consortium and Richard Ennion from Bristol City Council are introducing us to the Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation, the model that inspired them, their partnerships and their objective.
Below is Sue and Richard's introduction to the project:
What’s the idea?
The Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation is a new charity focused on improving parks and green space across our two cities, in partnership with the local authorities. The Foundation aims to raise additional income for parks and support people who give their time - whether that’s running an event, giving a guided walk or lending a hand with nature and conservation. Importantly, the Foundation will not take ownership or maintenance of parks away from the local authorities.
Who is working on the project?
The main partners in the project are Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council, the Bristol Parks Forum and the Natural History Consortium. Alongside these partners Bristol Green Capital Partnership will help engage business audiences and Quartet Community Foundation will offer financial management expertise.
The Bristol and Bath area has an incredible array of parks, including some well-known Victorian landmarks, plus smaller urban parks and green space that all provide important benefits for their communities.
However, as local Friends Groups often report, some of the most well-loved parks are at threat of decline if action is not taken. Innovative ideas and new ways of generating funds are required to help revitalise these spaces.
Taking inspiration from the Bournemouth Parks Foundation model launched in 2015 as part of the Rethinking Parks initiative. The Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation will test how public giving, volunteering and social enterprise can be encouraged to benefit parks for public use and enjoyment. We will also work closely with Bournemouth Parks Foundation to learn from their experience.
What will the project achieve and how will other parks learn from your work?
Over the next two years the Foundation aims to identify key projects and launch its first fundraising initiatives. It will begin with a small number of ideas that have the backing of the local community and can capture the imagination of the wider public.
The Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation will be the first Parks Foundation to adopt a legal structure as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and will share learning across the parks sector with volunteering at the heart of the Foundation’s programme. We will also support parks groups to enhance their local parks and share learning via the Bristol Parks Forum.
The Foundation will tackle similar themes to those addressed in Bournemouth. For example, how to improve our parks and preserve their unique features for the benefit of the community. It will also encourage projects that protect nature and wildlife, reduce social isolation and benefit mental and physical wellbeing.