About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

The award

Bristol City Council has been awarded £99,450 through the Rethinking Parks programme to develop, establish and test a model that will enable people furthest from the labour market to gain horticultural skills and work experience that will create pathways to employment whilst at the same time decreasing the long term maintenance costs of public parks.

Rethinking Parks is a jointly funded programme between the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund (England) and Nesta.

This project guide provides information on what the ParkWork team tested throughout the project and offers advice to others interested in exploring a similar model.

The idea

Gaining employment experience and skills in a horticultural environment can be a very successful and enjoyable way to build the life chances of people who might struggle most to get work. ParkWork is about enabling people to gain skills across parks in Bristol, whilst at the same time making a valuable and tangible contribution to improvements in greenspaces and parks.

The desired impact

The hope is that individuals attending the ParkWork program will learn and build on skills related to maintaining parks and at the same time increase in confidence and improve wellbeing. Hopefully the skills and confidence gained will aid them in securing employment or a long term placement in an organisation. ParkWork aims to impact on the parks themselves by carrying out a range of improvement works outside of the councils budgeted maintenance plan.

The team

ParkWork is a collaboration between Bristol City Council and Bristol Parks Forum, the latter being a body which represents the Action groups linked to each park around the city.

“The ParkWork model excites me because it deals with two things that I am passionate about-the care and maintenance of the city’s parks and also the support and mentoring of people wanting to learn skills, build confidence and improve their lives through practical work. The impact the project has on both areas will be obvious and will help me to drive the project forward.”
- Joseph Mckenna, Project Coordinator


Joseph Mckenna, Project Coordinator: [email protected]