FRIENDS OF GROUPS: Valuing the work of Friends

We all know that time is precious and we all tend to value our own time highly, but when it comes to parks and green spaces it’s unfortunately all too easy to overlook the value of other people’s time.

Friends of Parks groups, or “Friends”, are local volunteers that have historically supported parks and acted as voluntary community custodians over their use; being fundraisers, influencers, conservationists, managers, and event organisers. They have also acted as the ‘eyes and ears’ of our parks when they come under threat or they’re being mis-managed. Friends of groups are then often the glue that keeps many a park at their best, and the actions taken by these volunteers should be valued highly.

One example of a community coming together in efforts to secure the future of their local park is The Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire who, since 2014, have prevented non-recreational buildings being developed at this park. As part of their campaign they created and raised funds for, activities to improve awareness and accessibility of the Grounds within the community so that the space would be seen as a valued asset. This included the creation of a heritage trail with guided walks, an exhibition, a film and book produced about the Grounds, community mosaic workshops, archaeology sessions, and even the writing of a new ballad about the Grounds. Plans for development here have so far been successfully stymied or withdrawn.

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