‘Walsall Connecting Green spaces’ is one of just eight projects to be chosen nationally as trailblazers for innovative new models of community engagement, management and usage following the announcement today of nearly £1.5 million of funding and support by Nesta, the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The award is part of the Rethinking Parks initiative which aims to help those with creative and innovative ideas for running public spaces and plans to help them thrive. The projects that have been awarded funding have all demonstrated excellent potential for changing the way that public space is used and managed, putting communities at the heart of ideas to make parks more sustainable and vibrant.
‘Walsall Connecting Green spaces’ will receive grant funding of £199,836.22 to make a clear offer to engage local businesses in supporting parks and green spaces as part of their commitment to the local community. Walsall Council has learnt from the previous Rethinking Parks programme in Darlington to meet the needs expressed by local businesses to get a clear offer of activities and events to engage with green spaces. Walsall will offer five clearly defined sponsorship packages ranging from promotional and marketing opportunities to structured corporate volunteering activities in different green spaces.
Councillor Louise Harrison, Portfolio Holder for Clean and Green said:
“This is fantastic news for Walsall. The funding will allow us to build on existing relationships with local businesses and to encourage other businesses to work with us.”
“We want to bring together community and business in a more systematic way to make the most of their common interest in supporting and sustaining their shared local environment and green spaces. Rethinking Parks will also support us in exploring how this way of working could transfer to our other parks and green spaces.”
‘Walsall Connecting Green spaces’ will be piloted in Aldridge Airport, King’s Hill Park, Palfrey Park, Reedswood Park, Walsall Arboretum and Willenhall Memorial Park.
Alice Casey, Head of New Operating Models at Nesta, said:
“Our aim is to help parks innovate to ensure they can sustain and develop as free, open and truly valued community spaces for the future. Parks are wonderful, free public resources, that communities treasure; particularly in urban environments. They support activity, health and wellbeing, as well as play, socialising and connection to nature. Rethinking Parks will demonstrate ways to ensure that our parks will continue to be protected and loved by communities everywhere for generations to come.”
Gemma Bull, Portfolio Development Director at the Big Lottery Fund said:
“Thanks to National Lottery players these eight valued community spaces can build on pioneering ideas that have been proven to help parks to thrive in other areas. We are delighted that this funding will bring together people and organisations to secure the future of these parks and keep them at the heart of their communities.”
Drew Bennellick, HLF’s Head of Landscape and Natural Heritage said:
“With increasing concerns around the health of the nation, our local parks have never been so important and they must be protected. Rethinking Parks is empowering local authorities, businesses and communities to work together to create and test innovative ways of managing and sustaining parks in the future, ensuring the £900 million of National Lottery money invested in them doesn’t go to waste.”