Parks and Recreation

Humera Sultan – Naturally Birmingham Project Director reflects on the changes that have happen since the project began.

It’s been a long while since I wrote a blog for the Naturally Birmingham website. A lot has happened in the last 18 months. We’ve been living through a global pandemic, adjusting to working and schooling from home.

In all of that, nature has been my saviour. I’ve been learning how to grow with my little boy, Esa (not so little now since he started school). We’ve harvested peppers, chillies, courgettes and pumpkins – all have been delicious, but the journey to watch them go from seed to plant to fruit has been something else. What’s made it even more special is the memories I’ve made with Esa. I’ll never forget the awe on his face when the seed in the yoghurt pot actually started growing a stem. That’s priceless.

During that time, I also set up a Friends of Park group for my favourite local green space, Swanshurst Park. I had a week off from work, and no massive plans given we were in lockdown. My husband put together an email address and poster for me and I got some printed at a local shop. We put them up around the park the next day and handed out leaflets so people knew how to contact me.

Eleven months later, we’ve got £10,000 in funding, got some youth workers in the park, had 2 family fun days, put up nature trails, got extra bins, noticeboards, logs to stop people parking on the grass, a wildflower meadow, started taster sessions in forest school, and have a conservation group. I can’t be more proud of what the group has achieved – it just takes one person to make a leap and before you know it, you have made new friends all wanting to do the best for nature that I can.

In my day job as Director of Naturally Birmingham, things have moved on at a pace – we ran all our pilots, despite being locked down, collected over 150 earth stories from citizens of Birmingham, and we’ve put all our learning into a 25 year plan to create a City of Nature for Birmingham. Thank you top everyone who has helped shape the plan over the course of the project.

Oh and finally – during lockdown, I also got into the American TV series, “Parks and Recreation”, and my husband now calls me Leslie Knope. She’s a passionate woman trying her best every day to protect her local parks –that very much sums up my job, and I love it.

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