An influential report by the Chartered Society of Designers has documented that:-
- Over 30 million people in England use parks, making around 2.5 billion visits in total each year. Nearly 70% of people use their parks frequently, and many go every day.
- Over 50% of us visit a park at least once a week, to improve physical - and mental - health, to enhance our closest relationships, to chill out, to interact with our communities and to have a good time.
- 87% of the population have used their local park or open space in the last year, and 79% have used it in the last six months. Parks and open spaces are the most frequently used service of all the public services tracked. This compares with 32% who have visited concert halls, and 26% who visited galleries.
- 91% of the public believe that parks and public spaces improve peoples‘ quality of life.
- The number one ranked issue for good parks and public spaces is that they ̳give a sense of community‘.
- Only 3% of 5826 respondents disagreed with the statement: ―Parks and open spaces are a focal point for local communities.
- If people are satisfied with local parks, they tend to be more satisfied with their council.
- In a survey of 5866 respondents, 97% agreed with the statement: ―Parks and open spaces can make this a nice place in which to live.
- If parks and green spaces are well managed, research has shown that communities use their local spaces more, have better relationships with their local councils and take some pride in the area where they live.
On top of all that reports from such organisations as the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) suggest that these sorts of benefits are universal and have been reported from all around the world. In 2014 the AHTA stated that -
...to improve physical health, regular involvement in gardening or community food growing projects, or formal horticultural therapy, can:
- Increase overall levels of physical activity and fitness, burn more calories and hence contribute to healthy weight management and reducing the risk of obesity.
- Increase healthy fruit and vegetable consumption, for adults that grow food, and among schoolchildren participating in food-growing activities at school – as well as improving young people’s attitudes to healthy eating.
- Reduce physical pain, and help with rehabilitation or recovery from surgery or other medical interventions.
- Help people cope with physically challenging circumstances, such as intensive cancer treatment or learning how to live with chronic conditions such as asthma or severe allergies.
- Contribute to improved social interactions and community cohesion.
- Reduce the occurrence of episodes of stress, and the severity of stress and associated depression.
- Reduce reliance on medication, self-harming behaviour, and visits to psychiatric services, whilst also improving alertness, cognitive abilities and social skills.
- Alleviate symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, such as agitation and aggressive behaviour, which can in turn improve circumstances for carers.
- Provide productive manual activity and beneficial social interaction for people tackling drug and alcohol dependency.
- Help people manage the distress associated with mentally challenging circumstances, such as making the end of life more peaceful, sociable and enjoyable for hospice patients.
There's plenty more data out there for anyone interested in knowing more, but why read about it when you can experience it for yourself by joining a LEAP work party?
Next Work Party is on Saturday 30 May in St George's Park - Horsefair Kidderminster - Meet at the shelter at 10am - gloves and tools available, refreshments provided, good company is guaranteed - so if you can make it - it would be very good for you and we Friends of the park would love to see you there.