by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
This year urban park visits are up by 13% and 93% of the population agreed that having open green spaces close to where they live is important*, proving the significance of quality local green space and acknowledgment of the commitment made to these spaces over the past decade.
Despite the economic struggle that green spaces have encountered this year, awareness raising campaign Love Parks Week has over 900 free events listed and will be reaching out to communities across the UK with 1.3 million people expected to join the festivities throughout the week, which display exactly what parks and green spaces can, and do, offer to communities that need, use and love them.
Mark Camley, Director of Park Operations for the London Legacy Development Corporation said, “The range of activities planned across the country for Love Parks Week is great news for parks and park users. Parks are the most democratic of places providing spaces for activity, relaxation, education as well as offering great health benefits. This year’s launch of the Inspire Program will be a fitting tribute to all the celebrations in 2012 bringing people into parks by staging events linked to the excitement of the Games. I’m excited to say that only a year after the hosting of the 2012
Games, we expect the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to be reopened and host a range of events and activities as part of Love Parks Week 2013.”
Love Parks Week is now in its sixth year and is a campaign which aims to raise awareness and call for continual reinvestment of green spaces. Paul Bramhill, CEO from organizing parks charity GreenSpace “These results prove that quality, easily accessible green space really counts, particularly
to those in urban areas where it can provide escapism from every day troubles and good old fashioned family fun at little or no cost, whilst also strengthening communities, making them a more desirable location.”
Bramhill continues “The challenge we are faced with is maintaining these much loved quality green spaces with diminishing budgets. Continual erosion of funding to the sector could result in a decline in visits and therefore a potential increase in crime, obesity, chronic stress, unsociable behaviour, not forgetting the effect on the environment. We need people to understand the risks and stand strong for their parks.”
This year the campaign is also running a Park Health Check asking people to think about and assess the quality of their local park and has also created a Love Parks Club both encouraging a greater sense of stewardship.
Public parks, in Britain came about as a result of the Public Health Act in the mid-19th century to improve the health of the nation, and especially the working classes and they are as important in this respect today than they were then.
Furthermore, parks are of great importance for people who, for many different reasons, decide to holiday ay home, engaging in staycation, as a means of taking the kids and themselves out into some green space in the neighborhood.
Being involved with caring for a large municipal park myself I have personally seen the increase in use of parks and open spaces in Britain in the last couple of years and even more so now where travel is becoming more and more expensive and holidaying abroad is out with many.