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. Some of the community work and projects that Parks are involved with are listed below:
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
Short Breaks projects start across 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 2012/3 the farm offered on average a total of 73 volunteer work days each week, with 19 of those days being specifically with volunteers who had a physical or learning disability. The farm also offers college placements and currently the farm staff are working 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. Currently the farm staff are working 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.
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. 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 2012/13 the riding school worked with 725 individual disabled riders. The back bone 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.
Horse-riding for the disabled, young and volunteers at Hole Farm Pony Trekking Centre at Woodgate Valley Country Park.
The work the Centre Manager does with young people and the aims of the manager to improve their confidence, social skills and life experiences were recognised in 2011 when the Centre Manager 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 partnership working involves service users undertaking a twelve week recovery programme that include “Recovery through Nature” sessions. The sessions offer the service user a chance to try different conservation activities, to build confidence and to develop new skills and knowledge.
In return the Ranger Service gains valuable assistance through volunteering hours and the sessions have helped the Ranger Service to plant an orchard, dig drainage ditches, fell trees and scrub from heathlands, build steps and bridges, remove invasive weeds and to create and maintain footpaths.
If you want to know more about Phoenix Futures please visit http://www.phoenix-futures.org.uk/
Swanswell is an organisation working with people suffering drug and alcohol related problems. The Birmingham Ranger Service at Woodgate Valley Country Park and Highbury Park are working on ‘Forest School’ related activities and a woodland management project at Highbury Park and Holders Woodland to engage and develop new skills with users affected by drugs and alcohol related problems.
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. Bookings can be made at www.birmingham.gov.uk/parkevents
In the last year park sites have hosted a variety of large events including Vaisakhi at Handsworth Park, Eid Mela at Cannon Hill Park and delivery of the Fusion Festival at Cofton Park.
Parks have also been used for smaller events by the local community including St Mary’s Hospice and Diabetes UK - fun runs, Shree Hindu Community Centre - religious meetings, the Oratory Church, Irish in Birmingham and Orphans in Need - sponsored walks, Ronnie Bowker Foundation - running races, Acorn’s Children Hospice - a sponsored dog walk, the Inspire Youth Project - community events, Kids Run Free - sports training sessions, various scout and guide groups, Cure Leukaemia and ER Mason Youth Centre - fun days, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Kabaddi Club - a Kabaddi event and Matts Mission Children’s Charity - a music festival.
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 2012-2013 the Service delivered 188 published events attracting 27,146 participants with 21 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. The activities are largely attended by families from Muslim communities around Sparkhill. Earth School was recently involved in the ‘Entente Florale’ judging at Sarehole Mill as part of a ‘Forest Schools in French’ activity
• Poplar Road Pocket Park Project involves the immediate Sparkhill residents in a planning exercise to improve the park and its facilities.
• Springfield Children’s Centre – ‘Little People in Parks’ - this is a series of park visits aimed at Children Centres in a health project to get young children out and about at an early age.
To find out more about what's on in your area or to reserve a place at similar events please visit http://events.birmingham.gov.uk/
In 2012/13 Local Authorities were allocated Short Breaks Capital funding to support their delivery of services for disabled children, young people and families and this was achieved primarily through the provision of new or improved play equipment and improving access to existing play facilities.
The Short Break Funding went to support the following sites: 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). The sites were close to communities with higher numbers of disabled children, hence reducing their journey time to much needed inclusive play equipment.
Consultation for each site took place with the parents and carers, and gave them the opportunity to choose equipment and put forward their needs to the Landscape Architects before they delivered on the projects. The aim of the funding was that the projects at each site would improve the lives of local children with disabilities and their families.
The Short Break project was delivered through Landscape Practice Group (LPG) of Parks and improvements were completed in March 2013
Information gained from the 2012 Parks Satisfaction Survey proved very useful in helping to decide the improvement projects in 2012/13 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
Illustrated are just some of the improvements carried out (starting left to right from top left):
New cricket wickets at Greet Recreation Ground, Springfield; Short Breaks Play Area refurbishment at Swanshurst Park in Springfield; Courtyard refurbishment scheme at Summer Hill House in Ladywood; New play area at Farnborough Fields in Castle Vale, Tyburn; New cycle paths as part of the Cole Valley Cycle Route, Shard End; New accessible raised planting beds and picnic benches at Harborne Lane Allotments, Selly Oak; New Outdoor Gym Facility at Billesley Common, Billesley; New park, play area and striking entrance feature at Raymond Road Park, Washwood Heath; Short Breaks Play Area refurbishment at Victoria Common, Northfield.
Birmingham Parks and Nurseries (BPN) are undertaking a project with Thrive, an organisation that work with, amongst others, disabled ex servicemen. Thrive and BPN are working 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 started in March 2013, and will initially run from Kings Heath Park.