Time to nominate your favourite park

    People are being urged to nominate their favourite park in. If a local park gets enough votes it could make it onto the list of the UK’s favourite parks!

    The search for the UK’s favourite park is being carried out by Fields in Trust – the independent charity that has been protecting parks and green spaces for almost 100 years.

    The hugely popular campaign has returned for the first time since 2019 and covers the length and breadth of the nation to shine a light on the green spaces that hold a special place in our hearts.

    Exeter prides itself on its green spaces and parks. The city enjoys a range of green open spaces including six Valley Parks managed by Devon Wildlife Trust, parks, sports pitches, 1,400 allotments and a number of cemeteries.

    Cllr Amal Ghusain, Lead Councillor for City Management and Environmental Services, said: “Our parks help break up the urban nature of the city and are great places for people to explore, exercise or simply chill out. We are conscious of their importance and work really hard to improve them.

    “Park and open spaces are great for mental health and wellbeing and they’re also really good for helping us with our carbon neutral agenda,” she added.

    Parks have acted as refuge to many over the past few years and Fields in Trust is bringing back the campaign to find the UK’s Favourite Parks to ensure that they continue to be celebrated in a post-pandemic world.

    The charity recently commissioned a study which found that almost half of us have visited local parks more often than we used to as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Coupled with research that has shown that access to nature was one of the main ways people have supported their mental health during lockdowns, Fields in Trust is determined that this year’s campaign celebrates the spaces that gave us so much in our time of need.

    This year’s UK’s Favourite Parks campaign is made all-the-more important in light of the Fields in Trust’s recently released annual Green Space Index report. The study – which analyses the provision and distribution of parks and green spaces in the UK – found that 2.8 million people live more than ten minutes’ walk away from a green space. With only 6% of green space legally protected in Great Britain, Fields in Trust worries that this will only worsen in coming years if we do not appreciate and advocate for our local parks.

    Chief Executive of Fields in Trust, Helen Griffiths, commented on the campaign’s return. She said: “There is no doubt that the importance of green spaces has been acutely felt recently, with people increasingly turning to their local parks to find a sense of tranquillity, space, and belonging since the pandemic began. When restrictions were at their highest, many sought refuge in their daily walk around the park; and when restrictions lifted to allow outdoor gatherings, the same parks became the backdrop for reunions with loved ones and new memories made.

    “At a time when things were so hard for so many, these places provided respite; now, through our UK’s Favourite Parks campaign, we want to give people the chance to show their appreciation for the green spaces that were there for them.”

    The search for the UK’s Favourite Parks has already begun and people in Exeter have until Saturday 9 July to nominate their favourite local green space now. Once nominations are in, the chosen parks will go head-to-head in a public vote.

    Regional spots to have made the UK’s Favourite Parks list in previous years include Simmons Park in Okehampton, Kingsgate Park in Bristol and Torpoint’s Thanckes Park, and this year, the Fields in Trust team hopes to unearth even more green spaces that are close to the South West’s heart.

    To nominate your local park, visit www.fieldsintrust.org/favourite-parks.

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