Parks And Nature Conservation
Everyone should have access to good green spaces irrespective of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion. The work of the Birmingham Parks Service is linked to the Community Strategy, particularly in respect of social inclusion, health and community safety. The Parks Service aims to support community involvement through volunteering work, providing local and national events in parks and asking for local opinions through satisfaction surveys, Friends and partners meetings, conferences and local feedback on projects. Some of the community work and projects that Parks are involved with are listed below:
Horseriding for the disabled, young and volunteers at Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre at Woodgate Valley Country Park
Birmingham Park and Nurseries assists with setting up a sensory garden at Children’s Rights
The Ranger Services’ worked in partnership with Community Service Volunteers (CSV) on the “Engage” project
Local and diverse community events in parks
Short Breaks projects start across the city
Local improvements accross the city
Green spaces, with on site staff teams, can be particularly useful environments for people with social care needs to learn and develop. Sheldon Country Park covers an area of just over 300 acres and at the main entrance it has a 17th century dairy farm called the Old Rectory Farm. This farm has been fully restored and operates as a demonstration farm, showing city dwellers traditional methods of farming. Animals kept at the farm include Jersey cattle, pigs, goats, ponies, ducks, chickens and geese. The farm has disabled and non disabled volunteers who help out on a daily basis. In 2012 the farm offered on average a total of 95 volunteer work days each week, with 29 of those days being specifically with volunteers who had a physical or learning disability. The farm also offers college placements and in 2012 the farm staff worked with Solihull College to provide students (some with disabilities) with work experience placements and access to formal NVQ level courses in animal care.
The Old Rectory Farm engages with outside organisations, such as Father Hudsons, to provide students with severe life long disabilities the chance to learn about animals and provide the opportunity for these students to offer meaningful help in return. In 2012 the farm staff also worked closely with Midland Mencap to place disabled volunteers with the farm to assist with gardening and maintaining the kitchen gardens.
For more information please visit our Sheldon Country Park page.
Horse riding for the disabled, young and volunteers at Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre at Woodgate Valley Country Park.
Hole Farm Trekking Centre forms part of Woodgate Valley Country Park and provides local communities and beyond an opportunity to ride ponies within Birmingham. Their reasonable fees enable children and adults, from all social backgrounds, the chance to experience handling, caring for and riding ponies. Carol Jones, the Centre Manager, specialises in working with disabled and disadvantaged young people. She also proactively engages with local schools and organisations to enable hard to reach groups to try something new. In 2012 the centre worked with 771 individual disabled riders. The back bone of the centre are many volunteers who give up their spare time to help both with the ponies and riders. Carol has also successfully encouraged some of these volunteers to go on to pursue a career with horses by studying for their British Horse Society exams.
The work Carol does with young people and her aims to improve their confidence, social skills and life experiences were recognised in 2011 when she was nominated and awarded with a 'Silver Stirrup Award' by the British Horse Society for her work with young riders.
For more information about the centre please follow this link.
The Parks Service and ground maintenance service providers recruit park keepers and wardens to be present at park sites and their presence helps to make people feel safer to use the parks. In 2012 there were 33 park keepers and 6 park wardens employed at park sites. The park keepers, park wardens and service providers get involved with community projects such as planting wildflower meadows. In 2012 Birmingham Parks and Nurseries worked in partnership with The Young Disabled Champions group which is part of Birmingham's Young People's Parliament. The group made a successful bid to Starbucks for money to develop a sensory garden for disabled children to enjoy at Children's Rights, Church Lane, Handsworth. Birmingham Parks and Nurseries undertook the work, at a minimal cost, and donated plants. The garden consisted of a brightly painted seating area, a wishing well, bird tables, a vegetable patch, a wild flower meadow, ornamental flower beds and a herb garden and included a fun garden noughts and crosses game and a yellow brick road with the young people's comments written on the stones.
The grand opening of the Sensory Garden ‘Rights Makes Sense’ was on Wednesday 25th July 2012 to coincide with ‘G2K12 Day for Children and Young People in Care in Birmingham. For more information on the "Voice is Power" Birmingham Children and Young People’s Parliament and Young Disabled Champions please visit www.vip.bham.org.uk
Parks can be used by local communities for small and large events. Bookings can be made at www.birmingham.gov.uk/parkevents
During 2012 park sites hosted a variety of large events including Vaisakhi at Handsworth Park, Eid Mela at Cannon Hill Park and delivery of the Olympic Torch into Cannon Hill Park. Parks have also been used for smaller events by the local community including the Spire Youth Project holding sport training sessions, the Filipino Association of Birmingham hosting a cultural festival at Woodgate Valley Country Park, Fitness for New Mums hosting a fitness session at Grove Park, St Mary’s Hospice, Young Epilesy and Birmingham Christian Centre having fun days, sponsored walks carried out by Islamic Relief, Irish in Birmingham and Birmingham Children Hospital and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association carrying out a sponsored dog walk at Woodgate Valley Country Park.
In addition to hosting your own events, the Birmingham Parks Ranger Service organises a programme of predominantly free events to engage with the community and to promote the environment. For 2011-2012 the Service delivered 169 published events attracting 22,725 participants with 25 of these being specifically aimed at disadvantaged groups. Examples include the following events with the Black and Ethnic Minorities
- Earth School is a series of family outdoor learning events designed to provide an understanding of nature and the human position within the natural system. This event was largely attended by families with a Muslim background.
- Linked to Earth School is the imaginatively entitled series of study walks, ‘The Great Urban Detective Medicinal Plant Hunt.’ Led jointly by Herbalist, Nik Muhammed, the volunteer botanical recorder Terence Quinn and the Ranger Service. The hunt searches the parks for interesting plant species renowned for their herbal and other useful properties.
- Poplar Road Pocket Park community group at Sparkhill have met with the Ranger Service to discuss new ideas for developing community space with a possible growing project.
To find out more about what's on in your area or to reserve a place at similar events please visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/whatson
Local Authorities have been allocated Short Breaks Capital funding to support their delivery of services for disabled children, young people and families. This is primarily to be through the provision of new or improved play equipment and improving access to existing play facilities.
The sites forming part of the project include: Victoria Common (Northfield); Henry Barber Recreation Ground, (Bordesley Green); Glebe Farm Recreation Ground (Shard End), Swanshurst Park, (Springfield), Garrison Lane Play Area (Nechells), Wheeldon Recreation Ground, (Kingstanding) and Small Heath Park (South Yardley). They are close to communities with higher numbers of disabled children, reducing their journey time to much needed inclusive play equipment.
Consultation for each site has given the parents and carers the opportunity to choose equipment and put forward their needs to the Landscape Architects delivering the projects. It is hoped that each site will improve the lives of local children with disabilities and their families.
The Short Break project is being delivered through Landscape Practice Group (LPG) of Parks. LPG have been busily developing the Short Breaks projects across the City, the first started on site at Glebe Farm Recreation Ground in November 2012, which involved the improved access from the car park to the existing play area. All sites are to be completed by March 2013.
The Allotment Team works with Allotment Associations to gain external funding to make access improvements
Planning developments within the city are sometimes required to provide funding to the public sector as a Section 106 planning fund. Funding from such an agreement has helped Harborne Lane Allotments to benefit from a custom disabled plot and a wheelchair access communal polytunnel.
The Allotment Association of Aldridge Road have also received funding from Community Chest to design and install ramps, new steps and railings to assist with the access to their pavilion.
To apply for your own allotment plot please see follow this link.
Information gained from the 2012 Parks Satisfaction Survey proved very useful in helping to decide where best to allocate some of the £2.2M granted in 2012/13 as part of the grants, short breaks project to improve Parks across the 10 constituencies in Birmingham.
Illustrated are just some of the improvements carried out. These included new play facilities and refurbishments, outdoor gyms, cycle paths, new raised planting beds and general improvements in the parks e.g. to benches, entrances etc.
Birmingham Parks and Nurseries are about to undertake a project with Thrive, an organisation that work with, amongst others, disabled ex servicemen. Thrive and BPN will work collaboratively to facilitate gardening programmes and the provision of activities and opportunities for disabled people including the following programmes:
- Down to Earth, a vocational training and therapeutic horticulture programme for disabled ex-service people
- Working it Out, vocational training and therapeutic horticulture for unemployed disabled people
- Growing Options and Grow & Learn, personal development and vocational training for disabled young people
The programme will start from March 2013, and will initially run from Kings Heath Park.