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Parks And Nature Conservation
Everyone should have access to good green spaces irrespective of age, disability, gender reassignment, sex, race, religion or sexual orientation. 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 with the National Trust Green Academies Project (GAP)
Local and diverse community events in parks
Local improvements across the city
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 2015 the farm offered on average a total of 94 volunteer work days each week, with 20 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 25 Solihull College Students, 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 and Calthorpe School, 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.
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. The Centre 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 and proactively engages with local schools and organisations to enable hard to reach groups to try riding. In 2014/15 the riding school worked with 794 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. In 2014/15 the trekking centre trained 3 apprenticeships to achieve a NVQ in Horse Care, Management and Riding and since qualifying the centre has employed the apprentices.
The trekking centre opened a new ménage in July 2014 and therefore riding can now be offered all year round. The trekking centre also registered the new facilities with the Riding School for the Disabled in 2014, engaging with children with special needs and learning difficulties.
For more information about the centre please visit the Trekking Centre page.
The Ranger Service have been working with the National Trust on a pilot project entitled Green Academies Project (GAP). The project aims to develop new learning and leisure opportunities for young adults (16-24 years) from South Birmingham, and to encourage new audiences to participate in and enjoy local green spaces.
The young adults are from the Kings Norton estates of Hawksley, Pool Farm and Primrose. Some of the young people have worked with local Friends groups on sites within their area, such as Kings Norton Nature Reserve, Millennium Green and Walkers Heath Park.
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 and Foodies Festival at Cannon Hill Park, Fusion Festival at Cofton Park, CoCoMad at Cotteridge Park and the World Rugby Fanzone at Eastside 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 Headway, West Midlands
• cultural festivals by Handsworth Wood Youth Group , Jalalbad Federation and Shree Hindu Community Centre
• religious meetings by Mohiuddin Trust, Birchfield Gospel Hall, Birmingham Faith Leaders' Group and The Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary, Handsworth
• sponsored walks by Autism West Midlands, MacMillan Cancer Support, Stroke Association, Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer's Society
• bike rides by Birmingham St Mary's Hospice
• sponsored dog walks by Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and Acorn’s Children Hospice
• sports training sessions by Rising Stars Young People Services and Birmingham Playcare Network
• fun days by Quinton Youth for Christ and Cole Valley Community
• car boot sales by the 10th Sutton Coldfield Sea Scouts
• a music event by Inspiring a new Generation c/o Ladywood Arts Forum
• a cricket tournament by the Association of Jamaican Nationals
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 2014/5 the service attracted 26,958 participants attending 293 events. Examples of events being held with the minority communities include;
• “Active Parks Down to Earth” is a weekly outdoor learning event designed to provide an understanding of nature and the human position within the natural system. This programme targets pre-school and home taught children and families, and is very popular within the Asian community. Further communication, outside the meetings arises on social media sites as a result, thus establishing positive links with BME communities. Please follow this link for further details of membership.
• “The Springfield Project,” Springfield Children’s Centre, Sparkhill. The Ranger Service work with Springfield Children’s Centre and Knowle Road allotments to aid Forest School activities and are currently assisting the centre to plan a new forest school and community orchard on the allotment site.”
• Talking Walks – is a weekly walk at Kings Heath Park and is popular with older people (average age around 65).
• Urban Rangers – A National Trust partnership, working with 11-16 year olds from the targeted areas of Pool Farm, Hawksley and Druids Heath
To find out more about what's on in your area or to reserve a place at similar events please visit our events page
During the summer of 2014 a Parks Visitor Satisfaction survey was completed and for information on the results please visit our Performance & Satisfaction page. Information gained from the 2014 Parks Satisfaction Survey proved useful for improvement projects in 2014/5 & 15/16 across the 10 constituencies in Birmingham.
Examples of some of the improvements already carried out in 2015 include new tennis courts at Cannon Hill Park (Mosley and Kings Heath ), new walkways and cycling routes at Merritts Brook Greenway, Weoley Hill, New artificial sports pitch at St Margaret’s Recreation Ground (Hodge Hill); New outdoor gym, rustic seating, MUGA and cricket practice nets at Morris Park (Washwood Heath); New skate/wheeled sports park at Oaklands Recreation Ground (Yardley).
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 2015 the Parks Service is currently training the following apprenticeships:
• 5 apprenticeships to a NVQ in Horticultural with Birmingham Parks and Nurseries.
• 3 apprenticeships to a NVQ in Horse Care, Management and Riding with the Hole Farm Trekking Centre.