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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 Birmingham’s Sustainable 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.
For the latest Parks Annual Performance Report, Customer Charter and results from recent Customer Satisfaction Surveys carried out please visit the Parks Performance and Satisfaction page.
Here are some examples of the community work and projects that Parks are involved with:
Volunteering with the City Farm at Sheldon Country Park
Horse-riding for the disabled, young and volunteers at Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre at Woodgate Valley Country Park
Birmingham’s Ranger Service is working in partnership with Phoenix Futures and Swanswell
Local and diverse community events in parks
Local improvements across the city
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Orchard Project
Apprenticeships in Parks
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 Ranger Service continues to place disability volunteers with the farm to assist with gardening projects, maintaining the kitchen gardens and animal care. Green spaces, with onsite staff teams, can be particularly useful environments for a person with social care needs to learn and develop. In 2014 the farm offered on average a total of 78 volunteer work days each week, with 19 of those days being specifically with volunteers who had a physical or learning disability.
The farm also continues to create opportunities for specialist schools and colleges to place students on work experience. Currently the staff at the farm are working with 20 Solihull College Students and 1 Warwickshire College Student (some with learning disabilities), providing work experience placements and access to formal NVQ level courses in animal care.
The Old Rectory Farm also engages with outside organisations, such as Bacons End, to provide students with severe lifelong disabilities the chance to learn about animals and provide the opportunity for these students to offer meaningful help in return.
For more information please visit our Sheldon Country Park page.
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.
Horse-riding for the disabled, young and volunteers at Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre at Woodgate Valley Country Park.
The Centre Manager specialises in working with disabled and disadvantaged young people. The Centre Manager also proactively engages with local schools and organisations to enable hard to reach groups to try something new. In 2013/14 the riding school worked with 801 individual disabled riders.
The back bones of this trekking centre are the volunteers who give up their spare time to help both with the ponies and riders. The Centre Manager 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 trekking centre currently have 4 apprenticeships working towards a NVQ in Horse Care, Management and Riding.
The trekking centre opened a new ménage in July 2014 and therefore riding can now be offered all year round. The trekking centre is currently in the process of registering the new facilities with the Riding School for the Disabled.
For more information about the centre please visit the Trekking Centre page.
This valuable assistance has helped the Ranger Service to undertake a wide range of projects including heathland management, invasive weed control (Rhododendron and Himalayan Balsam) and the repair and maintenance of numerous steps, bridges and footpaths.If you want to know more about Phoenix Futures please visit http://www.phoenix-futures.org.uk/”
Swanswell are a “national alcohol and drug charity” helping people change their lives. Partnership work between the Swanswell and the Ranger Service continued during 2014. Two volunteers from the charity have attended and completed the Ranger Woodland Training programme. A team of Swanswell volunteers and support staff have worked with the Highbury Park Friends and Highbury Orchard Community Interest Company on the Forest School site. If you want to know more about Swanswell please visit http://www.swanswell.org/home
Local and diverse community events in parks
Parks can be used by local communities for small and large events. All bookings are made on-line
In the last year park sites have hosted a variety of large events including Vaisakhi at Handsworth Park, Eid Mela at Cannon Hill Park, Fusion Festival at Cofton Park and the Wireless Festival at Perry Park.
Parks have also been used for smaller events by the local community. Examples include the following:
• sponsored/fun runs by the Muslim Hands and Go Dad Runs
• cultural festivals by Shree Hindu Community Centre and Filipino Association of Birmingham
• religious meetings by Mohiuddin Trust, The Mandaean Association and Selly Oak Baptist Church
• sponsored walks by Autism West Midlands, MacMillan Cancer Support, Stroke Association and Action for Children
• bike rides by The Nishkam Centre
• sponsored dog walks by Guide Dogs for the Blind and Acorn’s Children Hospice
• sports training sessions by Breast Cancer UK and Guru Nanak Gurdwara
• fun days by BCC Adoption and Fostering Recruitment and Birmingham Youth Empowerment Project
• car boot sales by the 10th Sutton Coldfield Sea Scouts
• a music event by Frontline Youth and
• a cricket tournament by the Jamaican Nationals Association
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 2013/4 the Service delivered 166 published events attracting 26,879 participants, with 51of these events being specifically aimed at disadvantaged groups. Examples of events held with the Black and Ethnic Minorities communities include;
• “Active Parks Down to Earth” is a series of family outdoor learning events designed to provide an understanding of nature and the human position within the natural system. The activities are largely attended by families from Muslim communities around Sparkhill.
• “The Ashiana Community Project,” a registered charity based in the heart of Sparkbrook, received support from the Rangers, in conjunction with the National Trust, on transforming the Community Centre’s back gardens into a beautiful community space. The Rangers also guided the local community on conservation issues including attracting wildlife sessions involving building bug hotels and “Grow Your Own” projects.
• “The Springfield Project,” Springfield Children’s Centre, Sparkhill. In this project the Ranger Service have worked with Springfield Children’s Centre and Knowle Road, Allotments to encourage forest school workshops and are currently assisting the centre to plan a new forest school and community orchard on the allotment site.
To find out more about what's on in your area or to reserve a place at similar events please visit our events page
Information gained from the 2012 Parks Satisfaction Survey proved very useful in helping to decide the improvement projects in 2013/14 across the 10 constituencies in Birmingham.
Illustrated are just some of the improvements carried out. These included new naturalistic play facilities, outdoor gyms, cycle and walking paths, wild flower meadows and new parks.
Illustrated are just some of the improvements carried out (starting left to right from top left):
(Clockwise spiral from top left) New Green Roof Park Link at Park Central, Attwood Green; New Outdoor Area in Selly Oak Park; New naturalistic play area in Walkers Heath Park; Mass ornamental spring bulb planting at Oaklands Recreation Ground, Yardley; New outdoor gym and seating area in Chamberlain Gardens, Ladywood; New walking & cycling route at The Ackers, South Yardley; New wildflower meadow and outdoor fitness trail at Bromford Drive Public Open Space and a new naturalistic play area and landscape improvements in Enderby Park, Perry Common.
During the summer of 2014 a Parks Visitor Satisfaction survey was completed and for information on the results please visit our Performance & Satisfaction page.
An exciting partnership with the Council’s Allotment team, Growing Birmingham, Birmingham Parks and Nurseries and the University Hospitals NHS Trust, saw the planting of an orchard in March 2014 outside the main entrance to the hospital. The area was planted with apple, pear, plum, damson and walnut trees.
This has a multi-faceted benefit for the health and well-being of patients, staff and visitors alike. By demonstrating how fruit can be grown and introducing some to the benefits of eating healthy food, therapeutic benefits for patients who can enjoy them by sitting in the pleasant surroundings during summer, and for those undergoing chemotherapy, allowing them to sit outside in the shade, as direct sunlight adversely affects them while being treated.
The hospitals armed forces wing have shown their appreciation, as badly injured service personnel arrive at the hospital and need reintroducing to calmness and tranquillity immediately following the chaos of conflict, and this provides the ideal conditions and place to begin that process. Royal Marine Regimental Sergeant Major Cochran met with the volunteers from Birmingham Parks and Nurseries and Parks officers and discussed the importance of the orchard and green environment in the rehabilitation of seriously injured and ill service personnel.
In the current economic climate the Parks Service felt it was important to offer training through apprenticeship schemes and to work with local colleges. In 2014 the Parks Service took on the following apprenticeships:
• 5 apprenticeships to a NVQ in Horticultural with Birmingham Parks and Nurseries
• 4 apprenticeships to a NVQ in Horse Care, Management and Riding with the Hole Farm Trekking Centre
• 1 apprenticeship to a NVQ in Animal Care at the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park.