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Parks Community UK: An introduction to the project

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, the Friends of Lordship Rec from Haringey are introducing us to their project, Parks Community UK, the model that inspired them, their partnerships and their objective.

Below is the Friends of Lordship Rec's introduction to the project:

What’s your idea?

We are the Friends of Lordship Rec and our project mission is to promote and help embed community empowerment in the management of greenspaces throughout the UK.

We propose to do this by working with up to 13 Friends groups, mainly from London, but others from Peterborough and Manchester too. We will be focusing on:

  • Supporting Friends groups across the country to become more empowered and hence more able to protect, help manage and improve their local greenspaces.
  • Facilitate improved cooperation and co-management between Friends groups and parks managers.

In each case we will engage with the relevant local authority/managing agency. We aim to develop a website that can capture good practice and other learning materials.

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Photo by Friends of Lordship Rec

Background

During an era when local authority park budgets have been significantly reduced, the Friends of Parks movement is growing and there are now over 6,000 Friends groups nationally whose primary focus is to ensure that their local park is well managed, used and maintained.

However, a large percentage of Friends groups lack access to peer learning networks and resources, and local authorities’ approach and practice when working with Friends groups is a mixed bag.

At Lordship Rec, working closely with Haringey Council, we have been able to embed strong community empowerment practices, secure substantial investment and physical improvements for our park. The impact of this work has seen us more than double park usage, attract a more diverse range of users and increase the number of autonomous user groups generating activities. We are looking to identify successful community empowerment examples and share these with Friends groups and local authorities nationally.

What will the project achieve and how will other parks learn from your work?

The online learning resource that we intend to produce as part of our project will offer information about our own experiences at Lordship Rec, good practice case studies from other Friends groups, some ‘how to’ guides such as ‘how to organise stakeholder coordination and partnerships’ or ‘how to organise community events’ and other useful resources such as links to helpful websites.

To achieve this, we will be:

  • Working with our 13 pilot groups; undertaking an initial detailed questionnaire, agreeing a plan with each group for the next two years setting out the priorities they will work towards with our support and monitoring progress at the end of year one and two.
  • Holding peer learning events for our 13 pilots.
  • Engaging with the local authority partners.
  • Developing our website with the learning materials.
  • Seeking contributions towards the website from other Friends Groups who have good practice to share.
  • Identify experienced community empowerment champions around the UK to help liaise with the wider sector.
  • Explore the setting up of a community-focused green space consultancy.

Author

Tiffany Gregor

Tiffany Gregor

Tiffany Gregor

Assistant Programme Manager, Government Innovation

Tiffany works in the Government Innovation Team focusing on the Social Action and Rethinking Parks programmes.

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Alicia Alli

Alicia Alli

Alicia Alli

Intern, Government Innovation

Alicia is the intern in the Government Innovation team.

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Chris Norris

Chris Norris

Chris Norris

Senior Programme Manager

Chris Norris is a Senior Programme Manager in our Innovation Programmes team, working on Rethinking Parks and Government Innovation.

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Amy Solder

Amy Solder

Amy Solder

Interim Head of New Operating Models

Amy works in the Education team.

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