Love Parks Week takes place from 29 July to 5 August. Whether it’s walking the dog, picnicking with friends, or having a kickabout, our parks give our communities, our children, and our pets a vital space to play, grow, and improve our mental health and wellbeing.
At Nourish London we are so fortunate to be surrounded by so many green spaces such as Battersea Park, St James' Park, Green Park and Hyde Park to name just a few.
Over the last couple of years, our parks and open green spaces have become sanctuaries to escape the same four walls and the stresses and strains of the ‘new normal.’ It’s therefore not surprising that we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people visiting their parks and public open spaces across the country and an increased interest in exploring the benefits of these spaces on our health and wellbeing.
New evidence shows the positive impacts of green spaces on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Read our blog where we interview Gaye Galvin, Head of Parks Development and Green Infrastructure for a London Council, who shares her thoughts about parks and open spaces and how they can help our mental and physical health.
What does your job entail?
I manage the strategic direction of the parks service and oversee a team delivering a substantial capital investment into the boroughs parks and open spaces. Working in collaboration with both internal and external partners we help to find solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. I also oversee large master-planning improvements of key parks and smaller neighbourhood parks. My job also involves drawing in funding and working with local communities to provide quality green spaces in their local neighbourhoods.
Why do you think parks and open spaces are so vital for local communities?
Parks are the heart of a community. People go to parks to spend free time with their family; to walk the dog; to exercise and to just escape the pressures of busy modern life. Greenspaces are a vital place to interact, connect and enjoy nature and get involved in greening activities. Health and well-being is vastly improved through spending time outside in parks.
What are the benefits of parks and open spaces for both young and old?
Parks provide space for recreation - organised or at one’s leisure. Young children love trips to play facilities, natural landscapes and to meet up with Friends. Older people use parks throughout the day to walk, observe nature and recover from surgery and procedures. Parks provide a neutral space for all generations to use and interact. This can lead to collaboration between communities members to help park operators cleanse and organise events and activities in much loved places.
How has the use of parks and open spaces changed since covid (has there been a difference in the numbers of people visiting and how they are being used?)
Parks and Open Spaces were used heavily throughout the pandemic as people discovered their local green spaces. This did lead to a number of issues for park service managers but the flip side is that the pandemic demonstrated how important our green spaces are how they are essential to health and well-being.
What can we do to help look after our parks and help improve the environment on our doorstep?
Get in involved - join a Parks Friends group, litter pick, volunteer to plant trees and help to water newly planted trees, stand up for parks when every you can and cherish them.
How can we help educate future generations on looking after their local open spaces?
Take your children to the park as often as possible and tell them how the park is so important to everyone for may reasons. Develop respect and custodianship by getting involved. Take a moment to look around and see how full of life and fun they are and ultimately love your park.