Parklife: get involved and make your green space a better place

It’s officially spring (and the Scottish weather seems to agree – for now, at least), so there’s never been a better time to celebrate our parks and green spaces.

A new crowdfunding platform allows residents to support upgrading projects for their local park, or for proposals to come straight from communities themselves.

MyParkScotland is already helping 35 different schemes across the central belt, and Greenspace Scotland, the charity behind it, hopes to roll it out across the country.

It’s just been officially endorsed by charity Paths for All, who are helping to fund the platform. Members of Stirling Walking Network’s regular Health Walk group joined representatives from Paths for All and MyPark Scotland for a stroll through Stirling’s Beechwood Park to launch the funding partnership (below).

The groups appear to be pushing at an open park gate: last year Scots made over 160 million visits to local parks and green spaces. Since 2004, they’ve topped the list of locations visited in the Scottish Recreation Survey, well ahead of woodlands, beaches and hills.

Greenspace Scotland say parks really matter because they make a big difference to our quality of life: viewing a green space for three-five minutes can significantly reduce stress. But aside from relaxing, they’re also ideal for better physical health with walks, runs or cycles…to say nothing of still being a perfect (and free) place for the kids to play.

MyParkScotland is designed to help local people re-discover and support their local parks. Ian Goodman, project manager, said: “MyParkScotland provides a mechanism for community groups to raise funds for their park projects through online donations from individuals and businesses. The platform also lists local park locations, events and facilities.

“Project funding through MyParkScotland can be for all or part of a planned project and the amount of money sought through crowdfunding can be large or small. So far, the platform has successfully helped fund over 35 projects around a range of topics.”

Paths for All champion everyday walking in Scotland. They believe that access to good quality local green space is essential to allow residents and visitors in local communities to experience the health benefits of walking.

Frances Bain, manager at Paths for All, said: “We’re delighted to support MyParkScotland in their unique platform to improve and promote our local parks. We support over 140 Health Walk projects across the country and most of them use local parks as venues for their volunteer-led walks. Our walkers not only experience physical benefits from taking part in walks in parks, but research suggests that spending time in green space is great for your mental health.

“We’re looking forward to helping more people to access and enjoy their local parks through the MyParkScotland website. The platform is now live, so take a look at the locations, events and facilities your local park has to offer or find local projects running a funding campaign for a park near you.”

MyParkScotland is one of 11 UK ‘park trailblazers’ in the Rethinking Parks  programme, funded by Nesta, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to support the most innovative and promising new business models to enable parks to thrive for the next century.

Greenspace Scotland is initially developing MyParkScotland in partnership with the City of Edinburgh and Glasgow City councils, Future Cities and the Edinburgh Friends Forum. Longer term, the intention is to extend it across Scotland and there has already been positive interest from a number of other regions in Scotland.

For more information on the crowdfunding site, go here

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