Befriending your parkHow friends of parks look after our parks and green spaces
In July 2019 a number of friends of parks groups came together to form the Barnet Friends of Green Spaces network. Now, we work together with 40 groups and the council to promote and support all parks and green spaces in Barnet.
You may not realise it, but Barnet has over 200 green spaces covering more than 800 hectares. Chances are these are spaces of value to you and your community. But, if want to see improvement then you could get together with others to form a local friends group. As ‘Friends’ of the park, we can take collective responsibility for our local facilities and our areas to improve where we live.
You won’t be alone. Across London, there are some 700 groups and nationally over 5000 groups.
I’m chair of the Barnet Friends of Green Spaces network, and, alongside others, I help support and advise new groups. We have meetings via Zoom where information is exchanged for good practice for local groups. It’s also a forum to discuss matters of common concern and work with council officers and councillors to get things done. Often we exchange practical ideas on issues affecting parks and open spaces from the provision of pitches and sports to playgrounds, biodiversity, food growing and wildlife. We think about flooding and climate change and the ways that our parks can be adapted to help tackle these issues. We look at funding possibilities for bulb and tree planting, support litter picking and gardening groups.
One thing I am most proud of is the way that we support, where appropriate, more tree planting and welcome the ‘tiny’ forests that will be created in the borough shortly.
With the borough population due to increase by over 50,000 in the next 15 years, we can’t afford to lose any of our green spaces. So, with local elections coming up next year we want to make sure that parks and open spaces get a fair share of the funding pot.
The network is developing a manifesto which we will urge the political parties to draw on in their own proposals. These will include protecting open spaces, creating a new regional park in the centre of the borough, putting more resources into improving our green spaces, creating a park ranger service to patrol and look after them, improving biodiversity, and ensuring all our rivers and streams are clean.
If you want to help and make our green spaces beautiful, then join your local friends group. If you don’t yet have one, then do start one up. We’re here to help you so just drop the Network an email. Our parks need us!
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