We believe that access to quality parks and other green spaces and having opportunities to connect to the natural world can bring huge benefits to everyone’s lives. There was already a growing body of evidence that said spending time in green spaces helps our physical and mental health, but following the impacts of Covid19 the importance of access to green spaces has become obvious to us all. Whether parks have become a place of exercise or entertainment for you or a place of quiet and calm we hope that you have felt how important they are from your personal point of view. We do realise that some of you who feel most strongly how important parks are to communities are those who don’t have easy access to them. This project wants to showcase all of wonderful stories of how parks have helped us and why we love them so much, but also to find ways to help everyone in the city who does not have the chance to experience parks in this way to access the benefits others already have – we call this environmental justice.
Volunteering – If you have some time to spare you can give it to your park by volunteering. Although Covid19 restrictions are impacting on the way volunteering is happening in parks you can still find out how you can get involved by contacting any of the Friends of Parks groups that help to care for and bring to life Birmingham parks. You can find groups via the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum website: http://bosf.org.uk/members/ If you’re not sure where your local park is you can use the Birmingham City Council website: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/findapark to find parks local to you.
If you don’t have a Friends Group close to you there are other ways that you can get involved in volunteering in your park or any of Birmingham’s parks and green spaces. As an individual (or currently with one other person) you could litter pick while you walk around your local park, you can find out more about litter picking here: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/downloads/file/17024/individual_litter_picking_check_list
If you are a group of people interested in a park that doesn’t already have a Friends Group you could consider setting up a Friends Group and there is information and help available via the Birmingham Open Spaces Forum website: https://bosf.org.uk/toolkit/howto/setting-up-a-friends-group/
Volunteering not only helps to keep green spaces safe, tidy and welcoming but is also a fantastic way for people to meet other members of the community, make new friends, learn new skills and even in these difficult times feel connected to other and to nature.
Currently many volunteering activities have again had to stop during the latest period of Covid19 lockdown: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing As things change updates will be available providing details of any green space organisations providing volunteering opportunities including the Birmingham Park Ranger Service was these activities restart.
Donations – If you are working fulltime or have other commitments it may not be easy to give your time to your local park but you could still give back to Birmingham’s green spaces by donating to our Naturally Birmingham Wildlife Fund. Birmingham City Council manage public open spaces but with budget cuts over several years the more specific conservation work that needs to be done to provide spaces for nature for some of our rarer plants and animals has been stopped as funding has been reduced.
One of our Pilot Sites – Dawberry Fields Neighbourhood Park in Brandwood, is home to Slow-worms and common lizards https://www.arc-trust.org/Pages/Category/lizards but there is no funding to maintain the wilder areas of the site that these reptiles need to survive. The stream that runs through the site could be a habitat for many more species than it currently supports if the vegetation along the banks was thinned out in some areas and the bed of the stream had rubbish and some debris removed.
We are working with Birmingham City Council Parks, local community and our partners the Birmingham and Black County Wildlife Trust and have put together a plan of action to increase the biodiversity of Dawberry Fields and in turn the whole city by making the site able to support many different types of plants and animals. We know know what work is required we can tell you what we plan to do and you can contribute to the work by making donations via a Just Giving Page Dawberry Fields Reptile Project – JustGiving.
You can sign up to our Newsletter to get a regular update and follow how the work is progressing. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our newsletter.
Spread the word – We would love to hear your stories about your park, volunteering, teaching, working, walking or whatever they are. Blogs, poems, pros, videos or recordings we want to create a rich and diverse “library” of tales that paint a picture of the importance or parks, the love of parks or even the lows of parks.
All ages will be able to get involved in the Your Story part of our Your Parks project, by sharing their Earth Stories Earth Stories – Naturally Birmingham Future Parks Project
We will be advertising online storytelling sessions, we would like to tell you our story but more than anything we want to hear yours. In these sessions we will invite you to tell your stories about you and we will record them (with your permission) to share even more widely. We want stories from around the world, stories from long ago or stories from yesterday, may be even stories of the future. They can be happy, sad, angry or joyful as long as they are about parks, green spaces or nature. If you can’t make our online sessions we can come and join your group to hear your stories just use the form below to contact us.
We hope that as well as having a digital record of all your stories to leave on a virtual “green platform” we would also like to be able to produce a physical book of words and pictures at the end of the project that would be suitable for all ages to enjoy. We think it would be so much more enjoyable to read a book of stories from the project rather than just a many paged report full of charts and graphs ( although there will be one of those as well of course.)
You can use the form below to contact us if you would like us to send us your story to share if you don’t want to attend an online session. Details of our online story telling sessions will be advertised via our social media accounts soon. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @naturallybirmi1