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The new Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation – helping parks thrive into the future

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Sue Sanctuary, Project Manager for the new Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation, shares her ideas about early plans for the Foundation. Find out more and meet the team in person at the Green Mingle on Thursday 6 June.

Setting up a charity from scratch is a challenging undertaking, but when in support of something as vital as our parks and green spaces it is worth the effort. We all have a personal experience of parks, whether a morning run to work, precious time with the family or an escape from the stress of urban living – parks are there for everyone.

Our parks and green spaces benefit us as individuals, communities, economies, towns and cities. They act as urban green lungs and are a barometer of how we are tackling social and environmental challenges. For example it is estimated that the benefits of parks and green spaces on our health and wellbeing save the NHS £111 million per year (Fields in Trust, 2018).

With Council budgets under continued pressure, now is the time to be innovative in the way we address the challenges facing our parks. As an independent charity Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation aims to work in partnership to identify projects and activities that will enhance and improve our parks and green spaces. It will not take on the ownership or management of parks, but will link with Councils in order to implement projects and activities.

The charity will tap into new sources of funding and support to ensure parks thrive into the future. It is just one piece of the action and joins a variety of partners, grassroots organisations and Friends of Parks groups flying the flag for their local parks.

The Foundation will be able to benefit from charitable giving, grant and trust income and support from business. It will begin with a small number of ideas that have the backing of the local community and can capture the imagination of the wider public.

‘People make parks’ and the first project phase for the Foundation is to find out what makes a park special for a local community and to understand their hopes for the future. At the heart of parks are volunteers and the Foundation will promote volunteering to encourage more people to participate and help local employers to identify opportunities for their staff.

The Bristol and Bath Parks Foundation aims to make parks better places to meet, play, learn, grow, breathe and enjoy. Many companies and organisations identify with the values represented by parks and want to make a difference to their community. As a Foundation we will be able to explore these relationships and develop connections with local employers and partners.

A park is often the only opportunity someone has to get close to nature and benefit from being within a green space. During the Festival of Nature, the Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation will launch as a charity.  The Green Mingle on 6th June is a great opportunity to find out more about the early stages of the charity and to discuss new ideas to support our parks.  We look forward to seeing you there.

The Bristol & Bath Parks Foundation is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Registered charity no: 1182217.  In July 2018 the project was awarded £193,000 to set up the charity through The Rethinking Parks programme funded by National Lottery Community Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Nesta.

The partners who have enabled the creation of the charity are:

  • The Bristol Parks Forum
  • The Natural History Consortium
  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Bristol City Council

Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Quartet Community Foundation supported the funding bid and will offer advice and support as the project develops.

We are also inspired by and learning from the experience of Bournemouth Parks Foundation.

For more information please visit www.yourpark.org.uk and www.bbpf.org.uk

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