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, Mark Adams from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council is introducing us to Redcar and Cleveland People Power Park Foundation, the model that inspired them, their partnerships and their objective.
Below is Mark's introduction to the project:
What’s the idea?
Our aim is to establish an ambitious Parks Foundation that will work with Redcar and Cleveland’s local communities and businesses to protect and develop our parks. We will draw on the wide-ranging cross-sector skills and perspectives of groups and individuals from different generations to create a strategy to promote volunteering, explore potential income streams and strengthen our parks for the future.
The foundation will initially build activity into the heart of a selection of parks by utilising the spaces to host a more diverse range of events and volunteering opportunities . It will also support the local community to become part of the “community activity model” with work already underway with our Sport England Local Delivery Pilot.
Who is working on the project?
The public health, neighbourhood and community development teams from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and our local voluntary and community sector have developed a strong partnership to lead the project. To enhance our collaboration with local businesses and the community, we have partnered with Groundwork North East and Cumbria, and the Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency (RCVDA).
Nowadays, we (the local authority) are working more and more with our local communities to design public services as opposed to solely delivering services. This has made it possible to embrace more creativity and new sets of skills and expertise in what we do - The Redcar and Cleveland Parks Foundation will be no exception.
Our model blends two approaches from the initial Rethinking Parks programme :
(1) Creating a Parks Foundation such as the Bournemouth Foundation and;
(2) Maximising Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity in parks based on the Darlington model.
Developing our foundation with a CSR business approach is an exciting avenue to explore and we feel that other parks across the country will be able to learn from our experience. The vital factor in this project’s success will be the collaborative work between the community, foundation and local businesses. The businesses and community will bring expertise to support the foundation in developing additional income streams and ensuring the foundation thrives.
What will the project achieve and how will other parks learn from your work?
Whilst the foundation alone will not solve the financial issues that the parks and green spaces services face, we want to explore how a foundation might work with communities to support local businesses to discharge their corporate social responsibility in new ways. We are hoping to better understand how investment in parks can leverage additional health and wellbeing benefits for people.
A foundation can improve visitors’ experiences in parks by supporting them to take ownership of the space, improve their health and be more active.